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Prison staff have been banned from calling prisoners “residents” or describing cells as “rooms”.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is said to believe “wishy-washy, politically correct” phrasing is damaging public confidence.
A style guide has been issued to all Ministry of Justice (MoJ), prison and probation employees, and private jail contractors to clarify what terms are appropriate.
The new guide was unveiled at a meeting with senior officials on Wednesday night (April 27).
Staff have been told not to refer to “service-users” or “clients”, instead of being urged to call them prisoners or offenders.
It comes after Dominic defended a new “smart” prison designed to drive down crime.
A government source said: “The Justice Secretary is determined that our prisons up their game in rehabilitating prisoners to drive down re-offending, cut crime and protect the public.
“But wishy-washy, politically correct phrases like 'room' or 'client' dent public confidence in our ability both to reform and to punish those who have broken the law and caused harm to others. The Justice Secretary believes in calling a prisoner a prisoner.”
The guide reads that the terms “prisoner leavers” or “ex-offenders” are preferred.
It also states that those who have been let out on license can be called “people resettling into the community”.
The changes come following The Justice Secretary’s visit to the category C prison, Wellingborough Prison, in March.
Dominic said caterory C prisons' needed to be given “a sense of what life on the outside looks like” because “we are not going to lock everyone up for life”.
The 1,700-capacity prison does not have bars on its windows and will provide prisoners with access to a gym, snooker table and a tablet to gain new qualifications.
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At the time, prison staff said they would describe cells as “rooms” and prisoners as “residents” to aid their rehabilitation.
During the visit, Mr Raab said: “I’m interested in punishment because that’s what the public expects, but I’m not really interested in stigmatising in a way that’s counter-productive to my aim of driving down re-offending.”
The MoJ has now said staff must stick to the approved language and change any literature that fails to adhere to the style guide.
- Prison News
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