Written evidence from LTE GROUP (TRADING AS NOVUS)

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Novus welcomes the opportunity to submit a response to the Call for Evidence for the Women in Prison Inquiry. The inquiry is a critical opportunity to reflect on womens’ prison education services following the implementation of the new Prison Education Framework, and the supporting Dynamic Procurement System. We have responded to questions 6, 10, and 11 as we feel we can add insight to these areas, drawing upon our current delivery experience as a custodial education provider in the womens’ estate.

 

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT – LTE GROUP

LTE Group is the first education and skills group of its kind. LTE Group reflects the combined strength of six leading organisations, with the support, expertise and power of a wider group infrastructure, working together for the benefit of learners, employers and wider communities.

The Group includes:

 

ABOUT NOVUS

Novus is an established and successful provider of skills, employability and learning support to offenders and other ‘hard to reach’ individuals. We have 28 years’ experience of delivering in a custodial setting, including 25+ years in the female estate. We deliver at 50 custodial sites nationally, including four prisons in the female estate. We currently deliver Prison Education Framework (PEF) services, and Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) services at

HMP/YOI New Hall, HMP/YOI Low Newton, HMP/YOI Styal, and HMP Askham Grange.

 

 

 

 

 

Q6. DOES THE FEMALE PRISON ESTATE TAKE A WHOLE SYSTEM APPROACH (THAT CONSIDERS ALL OF THE OFFENDERS NEEDS) TO THOSE IN THEIR CARE?

WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE?

ARE THERE ANY BARRIERS IN ACHIEVING A WHOLE SYSTEM APPROACH TO FEMALE OFFENDING?

 

Novus recognises the importance of a ‘whole system approach’ in effectively supporting women to fulfil their potential and address barriers to learning in custody. Dame Sally Coates’ Review of Prison Education (2016) recommended a ‘whole-prison approach to ensuring the regime is appropriate to their needs’, across the whole estate. The Farmer Review for Women (2019) highlights the importance of a whole system approach where multiple agencies work collaboratively to support women to reduce re-offending. As well as good relationships between agencies, supporting women to sustain positive relationships whilst in custody with ‘families and significant others’ (Farmer, 2019) is key to their development and success in custody. 

Novus delivers custodial education across 4 female prisons (HMPs Askham Grange, Styal, New Hall, and Low Newton). This experience has provided us with understanding of the unique challenges faced by women in custody. For example, women in custody:

*Prison Reform Trust statistics.

These unique challenges and complexities present challenges in providing a whole system approach for women in custody. We have outlined our thinking on existing good practice, and key challenges below.

What does this look like in practice?

Our understanding of what a ‘whole system approach’ should look like is based on our delivery experience in the female estate, and relevant policy and research (e.g. Farmer Review).

In practice, a whole system approach in the female estate would include the following:

 

recognising the high prevalence of learning difficulties / trauma / mental health needs (e.g. c.70% at HMPYOI Low Newton), we have partnered with MIND to provide our staff with a programme of training on Trauma-Informed Care. This can be accessed online and staff are supported to develop a trauma informed approach through studying at home/in Establishments.

Working with our learning difficulty specialist partner, The British Dyslexia Association, 12 staff across the women’s estate have achieved a Level 2 in Hidden Disabilities – providing a train-the-trainer model to disseminate learnings across the women’s estate e.g. how to identify behaviour traits of those with learning difficulties

 

Are there any barriers in achieving a Whole System Approach to female offending?

There are a number of barriers in achieving a Whole System Approach to female offending:

 

Areas of concern further identified by the Ofsted Annual report were:

 

Q10. WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO ENSURE THAT WOMEN ARE SUCCESSFULLY RESETTLED INTO THE COMMUNITY UPON RELEASE AND REDUCE REOFFENDING?

ARE THERE ANY BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE RESETTLEMENT, AND REDUCED REOFFENDING?

 

Support available to ensure that women are successfully resettled into the community

Novus has developed a broad range of tailored services to support women to successfully resettle into the community upon release. Our resettlement support provision has been strategically aligned to the MOJ’s Female Offender Strategy (2018) and, where possible, informed by residents themselves.

The support that Novus provides includes:

 

Evidence

In practice, we develop close relationships with local partners (prison/community) to offer a tailored resettlement package to women in custody. For example, at HMPYOI Styal, we liaise with, and provide referrals/signposting to:

 

Barriers to effective resettlement and reduced reoffending

The support that Novus provides women to support their resettlement is tailored to their needs – we understand that many women face significant barriers to effective resettlement, including:

We would welcome more effective sequencing to support women serving short sentences. Due to the complexity of need on entry (e.g. co-occurring mental health/drugs/low self-esteem), interventions which are of immediate need are prioritised such as healthcare. This means that education, training and employment (ETE) provision is often undertaken nearer to the end of their sentence which results in missed ETE opportunities due to appointment clashes.

Women in custody access approximately 20% of the funding available to their counterparts in mainstream education – with their needs being far more complex and challenging.

In addition, there is capacity for approximately 80 Cat D residents across the Women’s Estate (at HMPYOI Askham Grange), compared to an Operational Capacity of 1,116. Novus believes that not enough residents are afforded this opportunity of managed transition into the community through the Cat D resettlement service.

 

Q11. WHAT SUPPORT DOES THE FEMALE ADULT ESTATE OFFER TO GIRLS TRANSITIONING FROM THE YOUTH CUSTODIAL ESTATE?

 

Although the numbers of girls transitioning from youth custodial estate (e.g. Secure Training Centres) to the adult estate is small, we support this transition through: