Welcome to issue #6 of The Investigator, the PPO’s regular newsletter

As we publish Issue 6, we are well into the second lockdown in England and have had to revise some of the plans we had for returning in greater numbers to our offices and for visiting prisons again.

There are, though, some positives to our new ways of working, even if we miss the human contact and the chance to speak to people in prison face to face in the course of our investigations. The scanning of the letters sent to us is working well; letters are scanned securely by a company based in Reading and then emailed to our staff so that cases can be allocated in the normal way. We have started using email to contact people in prison and that, with the right safeguards, has been a positive change that we will look to continue in some way; it’s quicker, greener and reflects the (slowly) increasing availability of digital platforms in prisons.

We had been planning to start our engagement groups with people in prison, but those plans have now been paused as prisons have announced new arrangements to respond to the latest lockdown. Until we can safely meet with groups to talk about our work, particularly how we respond to complaints, we will explore options for virtual engagement, using our existing surveys and thinking of new ways of making those connections.

Some of the highlights since we last published The Investigator in July 2020: on 3 November we contributed to a webinar, our first, in collaboration with academic partners from the University of Nottingham and colleagues from the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) and Revolving Doors Agency (RDA). You can read more on the webinar inside this edition. On 4 November, our Annual Report was laid before Parliament and copies were sent to many of the people who will be reading this edition of The Investigator. The Annual Report is an important record of our work over the last year and reflects another busy and varied year across all parts of the PPO. The report is now available on our website.

This edition contains articles we think reflect the work we have been doing in recent months, working in a different way but maintaining the service we offer and the important scrutiny role we play.

We welcome feedback on this publication and hope you enjoy reading it.

Thank you for reading,

Sue McAllister, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

Email a Prisoner PPO success!

Reducing Deaths in Prisons: Learning from prisoner lived experience?

How to submit an eligible complaint

The Key Worker scheme

To read this newsletter as a PDF, please click here.