Emotion, action and power in the penal voluntary sector, 2019-2020

This is qualitative data from six focus groups, undertaken 2019–2020, including a total of 32 penal voluntary sector (PVS) practitioners from England and Scotland, holding diverse roles (i.e., strategic leaders, frontline workers, volunteers, lived experience leaders and activists). The study overal...

Full description

Saved in:  
Bibliographic Details
Authors: Tomczak, Philippa (Author) ; Buck, Gillian (Author)
Format: Electronic Research Data
Published: Colchester UK Data Service 2023
In:Year: 2023
Online Access: Volltext (kostenfrei registrierungspflichtig)
Check availability: HBZ Gateway
Summary:This is qualitative data from six focus groups, undertaken 2019–2020, including a total of 32 penal voluntary sector (PVS) practitioners from England and Scotland, holding diverse roles (i.e., strategic leaders, frontline workers, volunteers, lived experience leaders and activists). The study overall was an interpretive study of the PVS which ran from 2019-2021. We explored what people in this sector do and why, what it feels like to practice in this sector, and what power people feel they have in their role. The voluntary sector acts as the last line of defence for some of the most marginalized people in societies around the world, yet its capacities are significantly reduced by chronic resource shortages and dynamic political obstacles. Existing research has scarcely examined what it is like for voluntary sector practitioners working amidst these conditions. We explore how penal voluntary sector practitioners across England and Scotland marshalled their personal and professional resources to “keep going” amidst significant challenges. For data storage and analysis purposes transcripts have been carefully anonymised with any potentially identifiable details removed. Further information about the project and links to publications are available on the University of Nottingham SafeSoc project webpage linked under Related resources. In May 2019, Dutch courts refused to deport an English suspected drug smuggler, citing the potential for inhuman and degrading treatment at HMP Liverpool. This well publicised judgment illustrates the necessity of my FLF: reconceptualising prison regulation, for safer societies. It seeks to save lives and money, and reduce criminal reoffending. Over 10.74 million people are imprisoned globally. The growing transnational significance of detention regulation was signalled by the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture/OPCAT. Its 89 signatories, including the UK, must regularly examine treatment and conditions. The quality of prison life affects criminal reoffending rates, so the consequences of unsafe prisons are absorbed by our societies. Prison regulation is more urgent than ever. England and Wales' prisons are now less safe than at any point in recorded history, containing almost 83,000 prisoners: virtually all of whom will be released at some point. In 2016, record prison suicides harmed prisoners, staff and bereaved families, draining ~£385 million from public funds. Record prisoner self-harm was seen in 2017, then again in 2018. Criminal reoffending costs £15 billion annually. Deteriorating prison safety poses a major moral, social, economic and public health threat, attracting growing recognition. Reconceptualising prison regulation is a difficult multidisciplinary challenge. Regulation includes any activity seeking to steer events in prisons. Effective prison regulation demands academic innovation and sustained collaboration and implementation with practitioners from different sectors (e.g. public, voluntary), regulators, policymakers, and prisoners: from local to (trans)national levels. Citizen participation has become central to realising more democratic, sustainable public services but is not well integrated across theory-policy-practice. I will coproduce prison regulation with partners, including the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, voluntary organisations Safe Ground and the Prison Reform Trust, and (former) prisoners. This FLF examines three diverse case study countries: England and Wales, Brazil and Canada, developing multinational implications. This approach is ambitious and risky, but critical for challenging commonsensical beliefs. Interviews, focus groups, observation and creative methodologies will be used. There are three aims, to: i) theorise the (potential) participatory roles of prisoners and the voluntary sector in prison regulation ii) appraise the (normative) relationships between multisectoral regulators (e.g. public, voluntary) from local to (trans)national scales iii) co-produce (with multisectoral regulators), pilot, document and disseminate models of participatory, effective and efficient prison regulation in England and Wales (and beyond) - integrating multisectoral, multiscalar penal overseers and prisoners into regulatory theory and practice. This is an innovative study. Punishment scholars have paid limited attention to regulation. Participatory networks of (former) prisoners are a relatively new formation but rapidly growing in influence. Nobody has yet considered agencies like the Prisons Inspectorate and Ombudsman alongside voluntary sector organisations and participatory networks, nor their collective influences from local to transnational scales. Nobody has tried to work with all of these agencies to reconceptualise prison regulation and test it in practice. Findings will be developed, disseminated and implemented internationally. The research team will present findings and engage with diverse stakeholders and decision makers through interactive workshops (Parliament, London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham), and multimedia outputs (e.g. infographics). This FLF has implications for prisons and detention globally, and broader relevance as a case study of participatory regulation of public services and policy translation.