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Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick’s, speech at Sharing Good Vibrations now online

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, gave one of the keynote speeches at October’s Sharing Good Vibrations event.  His speech is online here.  In his speech Nick said:

“Having now seen Gamelan workshops in prisons, talked to the workshop leaders, read the academic evaluations and tried it myself, I think the case for the value of Good Vibrations’ work in prisons and the importance of Cathy’s inspiration is made.  And more than that, through my inspections, I see the value of the arts in every prison I go to. “

He quoted Tolstoy on art:

“a means of union among men [and women], joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”

adding “I think is a pretty good definition of the rehabilitation we all aspire to”

He explored the reasons why it’s so difficult to get arts projects off the ground in prisons, concluding:

“In a nutshell, like the Victorians, we are in an age where the prevailing view seems to be that rehabilitation can be achieved by the exact application of pseudo-scientific processes and what matters is what can be measured. Of course the processes we want to apply are different but the mindset appears not so dissimilar.

“And that is a real problem for arts projects. By their nature they are difficult to measure, their impact is harder to describe.  But in a world of benchmarking and measurable outcomes, will there still be the time for a tutor to use art to get through to a troubled boy nobody else could reach?  How do you measure the value of the increase in self-esteem in a bunch of women enjoying a Gamelan course? How do you describe the benefits for the safety of a prison when a group of serious offenders enjoy themselves and communicate together in a comedy school project?”

Nick went on to quote  from a speech by Churchill, when  he was Home Secretary, about treatment of prisoners, including the line:

“there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man.”

Nick finished by asking:

“How to find it? that is the question.

“I do not believe you can find it just through offender management programmes and risk assessments. I think for prisoners, like the rest of us, art can unlock the treasures within. You all know the impact a painting, some music, a play can have on you, as audience or participant. Prisoners need the same.”


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Photography by Toby Madden/The Independent, Osman Deen/South London Press, Camilla Panufnik, Elspeth Van Der Hole, GDA Design, Gigi Chiying Lam, G. Bland, Alan Bryden, Mark Carlin, Rachel Cherry, Francois Boutemy, Andy Hollingworth, Rebaz Yassin, and Guy Smallman.

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