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User Voice Council Model: Only offenders can stop re-offending

Performance Indicators

Some of the positive outcomes include:

  • Participation rates have been good – 58% in Albany, 52% in Camp Hill, and 51% in Parkhurst.
  • There was a 37% reduction in complaints from prisoners at the Albany site.
  • The number of segregation days at Parkhurst (an indicator of prisoner dissatisfaction and tension) was reduced from 160 to 47 days.
  • A major cultural shift also occurred at Parkhurst as a result of the council. The two regimes (vulnerable prisoners and Category B prisoners) were brought together for the pilot. This has seen joint working on issues and more time shared together for inmates who otherwise were separated at all times.

Council members were also given training by So What?, enabling them to undertake a survey of prisoners on attitudes to voting. Around 560 prisoners completed the survey, which revealed that just 35% of those eligible voted in the 2005 general election. However, 66% of respondents said that they intended to vote in the next national elections (if able to do so). Significantly, when split into those that engaged in the Prison Council process and those that didn’t, the former group was about 50% more likely to want to vote in national elections (79% versus 53%). (Source: Baz van Cranenburgh, A Market Research Summary, So What? April 2010).

This shift in attitude is a powerful indicator of a potential change in behaviour. An increased likelihood of voting could indicate an increased likelihood of engaging constructively in society. It is too early as yet to see impacts on reoffending rates, although one individual involved in the project, on being released from prison, started volunteering and eventually obtained paid employment with User Voice.

About this case study
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Jeff Ogden

Engagement Officer

Tel: 020 3137 7471


Frankie Hine-Hughes, project manager of Governance International, compiled this case study on 9 August 2011.

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