I’m not sure if irony is the correct term to use in this instance, because I’m doing exactly what I knew I would be. However, it is my goal, metaphorically of course, to make the walls that surround our prisons, invisible. The taxpaying public, with the hundreds of millions of £££’s spent on our prison system, surely have a right to know EXACTLY what goes on the other side of that wall. You, we, us, and them, plus they, whoever they are, invest money in prisons. I do not mean on the stock-market through the for-profit prisons. I’m talking about hard earned money, taken at source as tax and therefore, no choice as to where it is spent. I know I’d want good return on my money that I have worked hard for. If the government are going to take it from us, we may as well get value for our money. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t want to spend all your money on a washing machine only to keep having to send it back to the warehouse every now and then, because it didn’t work properly to begin with, and the warehouse keep sending it back without doing anything different to it. But! That is exactly what is happening with our fellow citizens who find themselves in prison. Man, woman and/or child.
So, why irony? Well, those walls that I am trying to make invisible, were the walls that once contained me. Or did they? My perspective, over several years, was that they kept people out. Is that irony? For some, statistics tell the story. However, only half of the story. The other half of the story is made up of a plethora of stories, individual stories from all levels of society. ‘Lived experience’.
Prison, as an environment, may be a shared, common experience. Staff and prisoners alike. But! It is a shared experience based on the individual’s perspective. Just because a burglar is 20% more likely to re-offend within 12 months, than say a car thief, does not mean every burglar will, or even the car thief. Therefore, policy, any policy, should not be drawn up on using statistics alone.
“Parliament is where the issues that affect us are raised, debated and reasoned through. Mp’s move from discussing the impact of housing policies in their constituencies to debating extended cancer screening programmes; from interrogating the assumptions behind the user-demand models for HS2 to questioning the Treasury on which regions will benefit from a new innovation fund.
It’s a tall analytical order for people whose primary job is to represent their constituencies and parties, but asking whether politicians have science backgrounds is misguided. What we should ask instead is, what are the insights and resources from research that would help politicians to scrutinise evidence, and are they using them?
Evidence Week 2019 is an unprecedented chance for MP’s and their constituents to get a unique 3-minute briefing on over 20 kinds of evidence that are central to policy issues across the UK. We invite everyone to take it.”
Tracey Brown OBE, Director of Sense about Science
‘We are delighted to announce the return of Evidence Week in parliament. Running from the 24-26thJune 2019, Evidence Week brings together MPs, peers, parliamentary services, and people from different social classes across the UK to talk about why evidence matters.
At the opening event of Evidence Week, MPs will have the opportunity to hear from community groups who are interested in the same evidence issues that the MPs are currently dealing with, as outlined in new data from Ipsos MORI’s MP survey.
This will be followed by two days of 3-minute briefings at interactive ‘Evidence Pods’ in the Upper Waiting Hall, with more than twenty partners, on different facets of interrogating evidence, from drones to the census. You can view the programme here.
At the installation in Upper Waiting Hall, MPs will be able to meet constituents to look at how to use evidence on national and local issues. Among many things, researchers will be demonstrating how to combine sources on constituency housing data, how to disaggregate data to find out what’s really going on and new tools for mapping and tracking problems.’ https://senseaboutscience.org/. Accessed 25/06/19. For more on Sense about Science and Evidence Week please follow the links.
A few weeks ago, Shannon Trust asked me if I would share a platform with their CEO (and published author, read more here.) Angela Cairns on the opening day of Evidence Week. I became a mentor for Shannon Trust in 2005 whist I was a prisoner at HMP Blundeston in Suffolk. I was, am, and forever will be, an ardent supporter of Shannon Trust. Not only do I believe in what they do, because I was a mentor – a role I covered for several years – I was fortunate to see first-hand that which statistics can never put across. Below is the audio from our speech at the House of Commons. I know right!)
Please excuse the noise 35 (ish) seconds in. The House of Commons still had the days business to attend to.
Rather than just type out the text of what Angela and I said, I thought it would be unique to share our words via exactly what we, wrote and read from.
Below is a selection of pictures from my ‘Day to Remember’.
I cannot thank Shannon Trust enough for giving me the opportunity of delivering my own message right to the heart of government. I will leave you with a poem that I wrote in relation to a day, which, for me personally, was just incredible.
A DAY TO REMEMBER!