By Mark Leech
Editor of The Prison Oracle
THE PRISON ORACLE: BACK STORY
I once had a dream – well two dreams really, but I’ll come to the second in a moment.
The first ‘dream’ started life 30 years ago, sitting in the large caged Reception cubicle at Wandsworth prison in south London, I was waiting for my prison escort to arrive to take me to Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight – a journey that was destined to end in the highest court in the United Kingdom and change British prison law forever, but that’s another story.
It was in that caged Wandsworth Prison cubicle that day that I found myself surrounded by a mixture of prisoners who had just arrived at Wandsworth and others, like myself, who were lucky enough to be leaving.
Minding my own business I sat and listened to the questions that went back and forth between the concerns of the worried new arrivals and the old-hand Norman Stanley Fletcher replies of those like myself who couldn’t wait to get out of there.
What’s it like here? What are the visits like? Is there any work available, and what are the wages like? What are the cells like? What about the food? Is it true they have a painting and decorating course? What’s the doctor like? Can I see a dentist while I’m here, and is there a waiting list?
These of course were exactly the same questions I had asked when I arrived at Wandsworth six months before – and they were exactly the same questions I would be asking again later that day when I arrived at Parkhurst .
Suddenly a penny dropped: I wonder if there’s a book that gives details about every prison and what it has to offer?
During the journey that afternoon to Parkhurst Prison I asked the Prison Officer I was shackled to: “Is there a reference book on Prisons?”
“No” came the terse reply, in a way that made it clear questions were not invited and comments were equally unwelcome.
Secretly though, right there and then, I decided that I was going to write that book.
“You’re going to write a book on Prisons Leech?!”
The Parkhurst Wing Governor laughed and shook his head in disbelief as I told him of my plan during my Induction Interview a few days later.
Well today, 23 annual editions later, ‘that book’ – The Prisons Handbook – has become the 1,600-page definitive annual reference book on the prison system of England and Wales that is sold all over the world.
One dream delivered – and now let me tell how how the second one was born; this web site.
In May 2018, having spent hours on the internet trying to locate a copy of The Woolf Report for some research I was doing, and having had to give up exasperated at my inability to find it, I had another dream.
One place, where everything on prisons was brought together, that was user-friendly, time-saving, comprehensive, totally independent, and where full access cost less than a cup of coffee a week; The Prison Oracle was born.
Fifteen months later, in October 2019, the dream became reality when The Prison Oracle opened its cyber doors and won outstanding reviews from those who have spent a lifetime working and living in prisons.
The Prison Oracle now has over 10,000 members, it covers 44,000 pages, it employs over a dozen ex offender page editors who keep the site up to date – and yes it contains a copy of The Woolf Report, along with almost every other valuable and vintage publication on prisons going right back to The State of The Prisons published by John Howard in 1777.
What’s on The Prison Oracle?
The Prison Oracle is the definitive comprehensive prisons website for prisons in England and Wales – giving you the most comprehensive, up-to-date information on every single one of the 118 Prisons and Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales – check out an example prison page here – including the latest IMB and HMIP Inspection Reports, fatal incident reports on those who have died in this prison – all immediately on publication – and in addition you get all this too….
RECEPTION TO RELEASE. 100’s of pages of detailed, up-to-date policy information on:
- Early Days in Custody
- Offending Behaviour Programmes
- Criminal Cases Review Commission
- Requests and Complaints
- Prisoner Communications
- Drugs and Alcohol in Prison Institutions
- The Prison Disciplinary System
- Support – Who Can Help?
- Equality Age, Gender, Disability & Race
- Social Security and Discharge Grants
- Release and Recall
- Indeterminate Sentences
- Women Prisoners
- Young Offenders (18-21 year olds)
- Young People (15-17 year olds)
- Foreign Nationals
- Disability in Prison
- Employment, Training & Skills
- Work and Pay
- Incentives and Earned Privileges
- Civil Partnerships & Equal Marriage
- Elderly Prisoners
- Security categorisation
- Repatriation to the UK (Post Brexit)
THE VIEW FROM HERE Articles and opinion on prison issues by experts in their field
This Section is about prison staff:
How to join
Prepare for interview
Go through training
Details of the brand new 2021/2022 Level 3 Custody and Detention Prison Officer Apprenticeship that takes 12-18montha to complete and replaces the former Prison Officer Entry level Training (POELT) Course – and for those who wish to advance we set out details of the two year UNLOCKEDGRADS course that results on completion with a Master’s Degree and people well on their way to Prison Governor status.
Independent bodies that have a duty to Inspect and Monitor the criminal justice system
Criminal Justice Joint Inspections – hundreds of Joint Inspection Reports, from 2000 to date
HM CPS Inspectorate – 350 Inspection reports divided into: Area Assurance, Area, Annual and Audit, and Ad Hoc Reports
IMB Reports – thousands of Independent Monitoring Board Annual Reports on every prison and YOI in the country, from 2009 to date
NPM Reports– Key Documents and details of all 21 statutory organisations that make up the National Preventive Mechanism
PPO Reports – thousands of death in custody reports, fully cross-referenced you won’t find anywhere else and right up to date
HM Prisons Inspectorate Reports – over 1,00 prison and YOI inspection reports- and their Thematic Reviews too, from 2005 to date
HM Probation Inspectorate Reports – over 1,500 Probation Inspectorate reports – and their Thematic Reviews too right up to date
NEWS DESK Breaking News on prisons as it happens Latest Rules, Reports & Policies as they are issued
PRISONERS & THE LAW 2022
The law relating to prisoners is complex, their rights depend on their status as remand or convicted prisoners, as adults or young offenders, male or female – or transgendered – and also their sentence length and security categorisation. This section, edited by prison law Barristers, examines prisoners and the law and gives you:
- Prisons Legal Cases Database – Instant access to over 1,400 court judgments in legal cases brought both by prisoners and officers.
- Introduction to the Law & Prisoners rights
- A-Z Subject Index- Instant access to 400 Prison Law subjects, in A-Z format from ‘Access to Justice’ to ‘Zoonotic Infections
- Criminal Appeals
- Prisons Legal Cases Database
- The Sentencing Act 2020
- Introduction to the Law & Prisoners
- Prison Rules 1999 (Correct to date)
- A-Z Index of over 400 prison law subjects
- Parole Board Rules 2019 (Correct to date)
- Websites of Interest
- Young Offender Institution Rules 2000 (Correct to date)
CRIMINAL CASES REVIEW COMMISSION DATABASE
Fed up with searching for CCRC cases referred to the Court of Appeal, the case details, why they were referred and the outcome of the case? Well now you don’t have to – it’s all here on our full CCRC Database of over 400 cases.
PARLIAMENTARY JUSTICE SELECT COMMITTEE
Containing almost 1,000 Published Reports and Evidential Correspondence from the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee, from Parliamentary Sessions for every year right back to 2002-2003
PRESS RELEASE DATABASE Containing Press Releases issued by
G4S – the private prison company going back to 2009
HM Prison & Probation Service going back to 2014
Ministry of Justice – over 1,500 press releases, going back to 2009
Parole Board – all Parole Board press releases going back to 2013
Prisons & Probation Ombudsman – containing almost 100 ‘Learning Lessons Bulletins’ and Media releases, and our Deaths in Custody Database carries over 2,300 of the PPO’s Fatal Incident Reports, set out by year, and by individual establishment, and by the name of the deceased – something you do not get anywhere else.
Probation Inspectorate – over 650 press releases, from 2013 to the present day
Serco – press release by the private prison company Serco
Sodexo – press release by the private prison company Sodexo
FACTS & FIGURES
- Awards & Prizes
- Banged Up Abroad: Packs
- Basic Custody Screening Tool
- Community Performance Quarterly
- Cost per Prisoner Place 2015-present
- Counter Terrorism Statistics
- Crime Statistics
- Criminal Justice Quarterly
- Civil Justice Quarterly
- Forthcoming Publications
- Freedom of Information Act Releases
- Freedom of Information Act Database
- Freedom of Information Act Database 2005-2012
- Guidance Database
- Healthcare in Prison
- HMPPS Annual Digest
- HMPPS Annual Offender Equalities
- HMPPS Other Corporate Reports
- HMPPS Annual Staff Equalities
- Incident Management
- Knife and Crime Sentencing Database
- Legal Aid Statistics Database
- Justice Data Lab Stats
- Law Commission Database
- MAPPA Annual Reports
- MAPPA Policies, Papers & More
- MOJ Service Specifications
- Offender Management Statistics 2010-present
- Parliamentary Questions
- Parole Board
- Parole Board – Reconsideration Mechanism
- Payment by Results Statistics – Final
- Prison Performance Ratings
- Prison Population 2010 to Present
- Prison Estate
- Probation Reform
- Proven Reoffending 2009-Present
- Proven Reoffending Tables 2000-2011
- Race and the Criminal Justice System
- Regional Reducing Reoffending Plans
- Research Briefings
- Safety in Custody Quarterly Bulletin
- Safety in the children and young people secure estate
- Secure video calls with prisoners
- Serious Further Offences
- Violence Reduction
- Women and the Criminal Justice System
- Workforce Quarterly Bulletin
- MOJ Workforce Annual Monitoring
- YJB Reports
- Youth Justice Reports
- Youth Justice Statistics from 2008
The largest circulation national monthly prisons newspaper, and the only one edited and published 100% by reformed offenders is available online to Enhanced and Corporate subscribers of The Prison Oracle – and our archives back to 2007 too!
INSTRUCTIONS, ORDER AND POLICY FRAMEWORKS
Instant access to all Prison Service Instructions, Orders, and Policy Frameworks that are currently in force – updated daily
RESEARCH REPORTS & VINTAGE PUBLICATIONS
Instant access to valuable research publications:
- The Prisons Handbook 2022
- The Cell Companion 2022
- Prison Law Index 2022
- Converse Newspaper
- Converse Archive
- Vintage & Valuable Publications
- The State of The Prisons: John Howard (1777)
- Prison Commissioners: First 20 years
- Prison Commissioners Database
- The Punishment and Prevention of Crime 1885
- English Prisons Today 1922
- English Prisons Under Local Government 1922
- Penal Discipline 1922
- The Du Parcq Report 1932
- The Mountbatten Report 1966
- The Radzinowicz Report 1968
- The May Report 1979
- Frightened For My Life – An Account of Deaths in British Prisons 1982
- The Maze Prison Escape 1983
- Managing The Long-Term Prison Population 1984
- The Woolf Report 1991
- The Wymott Prison Riot 1993
- The Learmont Report 1994
- The Woodcock Report 1995
- The Carter Report 2003
- The Zahid Mubarek Report 2006 Vol 1
- The Zahid Mubarek Report 2006 Vol 2
- The Corston Report 2007
- The Bradley Report 2009
- The IMB Karen Page Report 2014
- The Harris Review Report 2015
- The Dame Sally Coates Report 2016
- The Farmer Report For Men 2017
- The Lammy Report 2017
- Mental Health in Prisons Report 2017
- The Farmer Report for Women 2019
- Farmer Report Update
- Black Drugs Review Report 2020
- Black Drugs Review Report 2021
- Kerslake Commission on Rough Sleeping parts 1 &2
Current list of Governing Governors for all prisons and YOIs
PERSONAL INJURY IN PRISON
With violence in prisons at record levels we make this important section free to all – an expert explanation of personal injury in prison by Michael Jefferies, solicitor and Chairman of the Prison Injury Lawyers Association writes on on the rights and routes to claim compensation for personal injury sustained in prison where the injury was caused by no fault of the person injured.
New content is added every day!
PERSONAL INJURY IN PRISON
Expert explanation by Michael Jefferies, solicitor and Chairman of the Prison Injury Lawyers Association on the rights and routes to claim compensation for personal injury sustained in prison where the injury was caused by no fault of the person injured.