Memorandum by the Butler Trust
1. The Butler Trust is a registered charity
set up in 1985 to administer an Awards Scheme for people working
in prisons in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
HRH The Princess Royal is the Royal Patron of the Trust which
is named after Lord Butler ("RAB"), the distinguished
reforming Home Secretary. Lord Butler's family have been heavily
involved with it from the outset. The first Chairman was his eldest
son, Sir Richard Butler, and the current Chairman is his youngest
son, The Hon James Butler.
2. The Butler Trust Annual Award Scheme
seeks to reward and publicise work done in prisons or prison service
headquarters which is considered exceptional. The aim is to promote
quality activity likely to help inmates to re-establish themselves
on release without reverting to crime. 200-300 nominations are
received each year and 35-40 awards are made. 8-10 Award Winners
are given the opportunity to travel, visit other prison establishments,
or develop their knowledge in other ways. They then make a presentation
on their work and the use of their Award to Trustees and an invited
3. Further details of the Trust's work are
given in the enclosed Annual Report. The enclosed booklet of citations
for 1997 illustrates the wide variety of work and types of people
recognised in any one year. Good practice is promulgated by the
Annual Awards Ceremony, at which the citations are read out as
each winner receives his/her Award, by the Presentation of Reports
mentioned above, by the distribution of some of the Award winners'
reports to those with an interest in the areas covered and by
the local publicity given to Award winners.
4. The Butler Trust is not a pressure group
and does not seek directly to influence penal policy. Similarly,
it is not involved with non-custodial sentences. The Trust is,
however, committed to promulgating best practice in custodial
treatment and has acquired extensive "soft" information
about what is considered by offenders and those working with them
to be most effective in changing behaviour and preventing re-offending.
5. The main themes which emerge from this
information are as relevant to non-custodial as to custodial sentences.
They may seem obvious, but the Trustees hope that highlighting
them will be of some use to the Committee when considering the
introduction of new forms of non-custodial sentence. They are
therefore briefly listed below.
(i) Quality of relationships
6. The effectiveness of any efforts to prevent
re-offending depend crucially on the quality of the relationship
between the offender and the person with whom he or she interacts.
Many of the Butler Trust nominations for Awards come from prisoners
who stress that the attitude of officers or other staff who treat
them with care and respect but nevertheless make no concession
to their offending behaviour has been a significant factor in
changing that behaviour.
(ii) Increase in self-respect
7. Programmes which help offenders to realise,
perhaps for the first time, that they have something to offer
other people and have the ability to achieve success are likely
to change behaviour. Frequent examples are given of offenders
working with the elderly or with disabled or handicapped people
(particularly children) and not only recognising that there are
others worse off than themselves but also creating relationships
in which they are able to give instead of taking.
8. Similarly, the acquisition of skills
can change offenders' perception of themselves to an extent which
increases their confidence in and their ability to avoid re-offending.
Basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, simple cookery and personal
hygiene can be as effective in this respect as skills such as
painting and decorating, gardening and horticulture, woodwork
and soft toy-making. Although all these skills may improve employment
prospects, they are equally significant in helping people to manage
their everyday lives more successfully and accepting that they
can survive without criminality. Neither the creation of the relationships
nor the acquisition of the skills is dependent on a custodial
(iii) Behaviour-related programmes
9. The Trust receives numerous nominations
for officers and other staff involved in behaviour-related programmes.
These range from those concerned with the control of drug and
alcohol abuse to anger-management and similar behavioural skills.
The key features in the success of such programmes seem to be
the quality of relationships already mentioned, a clear and disciplined
structure with specific objectives and performance measures, direct
confrontation of offending behaviour, and support from peers and
relatives. None of these is dependent on a custodial setting.
10. Many of the nominations received suggest
that preventive measures are often most effective if undertaken
by those who have had relevant personal experience, either as
offenders or in tackling similar problems. The opportunity to
share such experiences openly seems to have considerable therapeutical
value as well as acting as a disincentive to potential offenders.
11. Each of the themes above can be illustrated
by reference to the work of particular Award winners during the
past five years. Some examples are listed in the attached Annex.
The Trust would be glad to provide more detailed information if
requested but has not, in general, done so at this stage on the
assumption that others with more specific interest will be providing
such factual data. If, however, the Committee wished to talk to
"grass roots" people with direct experience of effectively
dealing with offenders, some of the Trust's Award winners could
provide them with illuminating perspectives.