Reducing violence in prisons

26 September 2019

The new ‘Prison Pathfinder’ programme is a Violence Reduction Unit and Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) initiative to reduce violence in prisons in London. The programme will work to address the causes of violence in prisons, driving down violence in prisons as well as in London’s communities, after the end of a sentence. 

The two-year programme will work across two prisons in London - HMP Wormwood Scrubs and HMP Isis - to reduce violence in prison through targeted interventions to support mental health, relationships and build employment skills, and an increased police presence. 

Working with young offenders

From October 2019 HMP Isis - a Young Offenders Institution in Thamesmead - will work with nearly 900 offenders and will include an increased police presence to tackle violence in prison and targeted interventions to support mental health, relationships and build employment skills.  

The dedicated full-time police presence in the prison will ensure that serious and violent offences by prisoners are investigated and prosecuted. Lower-level offences such as damaging prison property, and breaches of prison rules will be frequently reviewed by an independent panel, with additional days in custody allocated where appropriate. 

Tackling gangs

At HMP Wormwood Scrubs, the Mayor’s funding will provide gang screening for all new prisoners, intervening to reduce gang membership by delivering one-to-one sessions for prisoners to help them challenge gang affiliation. 

There will also be a mediation service for conflicts between prisoners which aims to help individuals understand and address the driving factors behind their violence, and cut the number of assaults.

A trauma-informed approach to violence reduction

Across both prisons, the Mayor’s programme will use a trauma-informed model to reduce further violence. 
This means providing additional support to prisoners identified as at-risk of violence with group and one-to-one sessions to help them cope with difficult past experiences and future challenges without resorting to impulsive or aggressive behaviour.


The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime will provide £450,000 to fund the programme in HMP Isis from 2019 to 2021. London’s Violence Reduction Unit will fund £250,000 for the programme to run in HMP Wormwood Scrubs from 2019 to 2021.

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