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The latest additions to the Butler Trust's Knowledge Exchange site for prison, probation and youth justice practitioners.

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Knowledge Exchange

As regular readers may remember, last February the Butler Trust launched a new resource aimed at everyone who works in a criminal justice setting. The Knowledge Exchange is an online library of guidance and examples of best practice. The resource encourages users to suggest examples of best practice and guidance and allows users to search content by both source and sector. There are now over 500 resources instantly available for download.

The Butler Trust

The Butler Trust is best known for its awards programmes designed to celebrate and promote the best in UK prisons, probation and youth practice. The Trust was set up in 1985 by former prison governor, Rev Peter Timms OBE and Veronica Linklater, later Baroness Linklater of Butterstone. The Trust is named after Richard Austen Butler (RAB), later Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, and the Butler family have been closely involved with the Trust throughout.

As Home Secretary (from 1957 to 1962), RAB introduced a series of reforms to improve the management, care and rehabilitation of offenders. To further the scientific understanding of criminality, he set up the Home Office Research Unit, and helped set up the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. He also gave the go-ahead for Grendon, as the world’s first dedicated psychotherapeutic prison. The 1975 Butler Report (which RAB oversaw after leaving office) led to significant improvements in the management and care of offenders with a mental illness.

The Butler Trust Awards were launched in 1985 to celebrate people in the sector who go “above and beyond” in their work. The Awards were increased by two new initiatives last year. While the Annual Awards are for people, the Ruth Mann and Kathy Biggar Trophies, named in their memory, recognise notable practice in custodial and community settings, respectively.

Many of the most recent additions to the Knowledge Exchange come from the innovative practice submitted to these two awards.

The Ruth Mann Trophy

The Butler Trust’s Ruth Mann Trophy is for notable custodial-based initiatives, which have brought significant benefits locally and could be rolled out more widely. All submissions for the Trophy are added to a dedicated part of the Knowledge Exchange site. There were almost 50 submissions to the award this year.

The winner was the Creating Green Spaces project from HMP Brixton which aimed to mitigate the concrete and brick of an inner city Victorian prison. Staff and prisoners made four ponds (of varying sizes – one with a water fountain, and mini garden around it), placed planters around the establishment, where they can be seen by prisoners and staff, planted cherry blossom shrubs, and set up “mini homes” for bees, bugs and butterflies. They are also creating a small orchard. Both prisoners and staff helped to set the project up, and work together to maintain it. Brixton are also hoping that staff from other prisons can use the spaces they’ve created as part of team building activities, and help with the upkeep on their “away days”.

The Kathy Biggar Trophy

The Kathy Biggar Trophy is the sister award to the Ruth Mann, open to community (probation and youth justice) rather than custodial projects. There were twenty submissions this year with the winner being the Weapon Awareness Violence Reduction programme run by Bradford Youth Justice Service.

The service found that many of the pupils involved in serious violent incidents where weapons were involved were subject to permanent exclusion, with knock-on implications for their education and long term prospects, as well as placing them at significantly increased risk of exploitation and further criminalisation.

In response, the YJS offered to deliver “Behind the Blade”, a 1-2-1 knife crime awareness intervention programme, delivered over 3-6 weeks, to local pupils found to be carrying knives at school, or considered at risk of doing so – with participants also offered a certificated first aid training on completion, on how to support a stabbing victim.

In response to requests from schools, the YJS also started delivering assembly-based knife awareness sessions, in partnership with local police and health services. Both the 1-2-1 programme, and the school assembly sessions, have proved popular across the city.

How to use the site

The site has been designed to be simple to use. The front page includes both featured entries and recent additions but the two most useful ways of finding what you are looking for are the search box at the top of the page or the ability to browse by source, sector (custodial, probation or youth justice) or theme. The range of themes continues to grow but already includes

There is also an option for readers to suggest their own additions to the resource. Next time you are looking for the latest information on a work topic, don’t forget to check the Knowledge Exchange.

Thanks to Patrik Göthe for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Unsplash.

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