An 8 week personal development, anger management and crime reduction programme.
- Key personal development tools
- Discover Purpose
- Believe To Achieve
- The Mind
- Control of Self
- Profit With Purpose
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT & VIOLENCE REDUCTION PROGRAMME
Prison violence is a very serious problem not only in the UK but throughout the world. Violence within prison has a tendency to spread and create violence outside of prisons, both because conflicts spread past the prison walls and because incarcerated individuals exposed to violence in prison are at an elevated risk of being violent after they are released.
According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice last year prison violence in the UK increased to record levels, with 27,193 incidents of assault and serious assault in the year June 2016 to June 2017. Over the same period, there were 41,103 incidents of self-harm, with a rise of 10% in April, May and June compared with the previous quarter. The number of assaults on prison staff rose by 25% in a year, up to 7,437 in the period leading up to June. Of the attacks on prison staff, 798 were serious assaults.
In an immediate response to this, violence reduction and personal development expert organisations Syrus Consultancy CIC and The Safety Box CIC were sought to deliver a tailor made programme for those individuals who are responsible for a high proportion of this recurring violence in HMP Elmley.
Both Mr Christopher Syrus BEM and Mr Nathaniel Peat developed an innovative specialised high impact program which has been breaking the cycle of repetitive violence, reducing offending, improving prisoner – staff relationship and positively changing mind-sets of prisoners.
The programme aptly named “Aspire Higher” is a 5 full day course spread over three weeks which focuses on personal development, self-reflection, the breaking of bad habits, positive thinking, goal setting, motivation, inspiration, conflict resolution and violence reduction. The Aspire Higher model is unique in the approach taken to handling violent behaviours and causing a positive mind-set shift.
The feedback from all the participants throughout 2017 and indeed the first group of 2018 has been excellent with prisoners leaving the course feeling highly motivated and charged with positive energy which has helped them to engage better with prison staff.
Attendance throughout the period (March 2017 – January 2018) has been high, with over 95% attendance for the duration of the group and individual sessions, which is a clear indication of how the men felt and feel about the programme.
Participants for the program are chosen by the Head of Reducing Reoffending, the participants are normally selected as they are high risk and have had a history of violent behaviour.
The feedback and general feel of the program from the prisoners and staff has been very good, with one officer saying “It was the best program he had seen, in his 20 years of being a prison officer.”
Taking data from 6 cohorts spread throughout 2017 the prison has seen a decrease in Negative entries by 70.5%, a decrease in adjudications by and increase in employment by 61.6%
The program is having good results and works in line with the overall prison aims of making it a safer place for both the staff and the prisoners.
HMP Elmley Governor Sara Pennington says:
“The “Aspire Higher” is amongst the most innovative, exciting and, quite frankly, life changing programmes that I’ve seen. There is no doubt that the Aspire Programme has had a hugely positive impact both on staff and the men in custody.
This programme has contributed to the reduction in our prison violence over the past year by targeting those who are repeatedly violent, finding out what their underpinning issues might be and addressing those issues, along with giving them the skills to change their mind set, break bad habits and think more positively about their lives.”
Part of the continued success around the program is that both Christopher Syrus, Nathaniel Peat and their team have a cognisant understanding of street life and prison, both are identified as credible messengers by the prisoners, they are both highly respected, inspiring and listened to by the prisoners.
Stopping prison violence is a priority, but it should not only be for the well-being and rehabilitation of those incarcerated, but also for the well-being of communities outside. Halting violence in prison and preventing its spread to our communities requires more than disciplinary and management approaches. These types of approaches may be able to stop violence in the short term, but they have not been effective at changing the mind-sets and behaviours that perpetuate violence. Furthermore, as groups evolve, it becomes tremendously difficult for prison staff to respond efficiently and effectively to conflicts.
HMP Elmley and The Aspire Higher holistic approach offers a method for preventing violence, both in the short term and in the long term by changing mind sets and violent behaviours of not only prisoners but staff alike.
The Aspire Higher model is innovative and has the potential to do more in the reducing of prison violence in the UK and wider community.