We work in a challenging context where substantial change takes time and enormous effort. We recognise the complexity and intersectionality of our work and take this into account when developing programmes that are relevant, efficient and effective.
Our work is guided by strategic objectives that are proportionate to our capacity whilst reflecting our ambitious vision for change. Niche work helps our small team to stay focused, effective and specialist in the sector.
Whilst continuing to undertake scrutiny, support and advocacy work on race equality in the prison system, we are pursuing three core priorities vital for focusing on more holistic change:
- Improved Transparency and Accountability
- Rehabilitation Over Retribution
- Influencing Systemic Change
We pursue the monitoring of the implementation of The Keith Report which together with emerging academic evidence, informs our strategy and approaches.
To find out how we will work to achieve our strategic objectives, you can download a copy of our 2020 - 2025 Strategy.
Improved Transparency and Accountability
All parts of the criminal justice system should be transparent and accountable to the public. This is even more important in the context of prisons as closed institutions. Transparency and accountability are vital for keeping prisoners safe from harm, for upholding the rights of people under criminal justice control and for ensuring that the system evolves in ways that genuinely promote justice and fairness.
It is imperative that we encourage a nuanced, evidence-based public debate on the efficacy of our criminal justice practices.
Our work in improving scrutiny and accountability in prisons, first launched in 2009, has been developed over the years as a direct result of our extensive grassroots projects and advocacy initiatives.
In its current form, our work promotes external scrutiny in prisons whilst ensuring learning and impact at local and national levels. We support the development and delivery of independent, culturally competent scrutiny and accountability mechanisms reflecting national policy and international standards.
Influencing Systemic Change
In a time of unprecedented challenges, we need to apply even greater effort in the fight for justice reform reflecting democratic values and grounded in action at national and local level.
Our approach to systemic change is informed by an array of evidence from our scrutiny and support work, findings from academic research, and from high-profile inquiries and reviews. We translate our evidence-base into policy proposals and advocacy messages for decision-makers.
We have built constructive relationships and structured engagement with stakeholders to ensure that the ZMT is recognised for its specialist expertise on race equality in the prison system. We strive to ensure that our recommendations are increasingly reflected in developing policy and practice.
Rehabilitation Over Retribution
Imprisonment should not be dehumanizing. The opportunity for rehabilitation should not be undermined by the brutality and monotony of life behind bars. Whilst we push for downsizing of the prison population, we also call for the existing prisons to be healthy places to live and work, places that affirm fundamental human rights, and where the possibility for personal transformation is a reality.
Our work includes supporting prisoners, their families and prison leavers from minority ethnic communities. It also draws on international experience and academic evidence, indicating that a much less punitive approach to confinement leads to far better results in rehabilitation and (re)integration of prisoners.
We advocate on behalf of prisoners and families who request our intervention around their treatment in prison. We ensure that a prisoner’s safety, wellbeing and statutory rights are upheld through immediate action by liaising with prisons to remove potential threats and barriers. Prisoners and their families can report incidents directly to us. Our support is not a legal service but a confidential advocacy to help prisoners and their families navigate internal mechanisms for resolving concerns.
The Keith Report
Since the Public Inquiry report was released in June 2006, we have been actively advocating for the full implementation of its recommendations.
We understand that, with the passage of time, some recommendations might no longer be relevant across the system, therefore we are also looking at broader issues raised in the report rather than separate recommendations. We are keen to see that these main concerns are addressed and that no other prisoner is harmed.
Twenty years on, the issues of safety, mental health, security and race equality still need to be tackled across the criminal justice system. We continue to advocate for an effective implementation of the Keith Report, whilst supporting successive reviews and inquiries into similar issues.