Conservation Foundation calls on the Government to create more green spaces in prisons.
On the 11th of August Boris Johnson announced that up to £2.5 billion will be spent on creating modern, efficient prisons, with 10,000 new prison places to be built.
The charity Conservation Foundation says this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to 'put into practice the proven benefits the green environment can bring to prisoners and staff'.
The charity has been running conservation projects for the last 13 years, including Unlocking Nature: Gardening Against The Odds, a project in collaboration with HMP Wandsworth.
The project, which was completed in 2018, wanted to improve the physical environment of one of Europe’s oldest and most overcrowded prisons and also to introduce a range of land-based activities that would support rehabilitation.
Raised beds were built at HMP Wandsworth, planted with sensory herbs and vegetables, and a separate green space for staff was created as well.
The charity claims the new green spaces helped to reduce symptoms of poor mental health and stress, as well as violent aggression and antisocial behaviour.
Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve said:
"We know from our research that green spaces can have a positive effect on the mood and morale of people in closed environments. Unlocking Nature shows the many benefits the physical environment and land-based activities can play in supporting people living and working in prison. Relationships improve and the skills learned can be a real stepping stone to work on release. The prison service will have a big recruitment challenge to attract the right staff for 21st-century prisons and making them better, safer and greener places to work can play an important part in this."
The charity is calling on Government and all the agencies which will be responsible for building the prisons recently announed, to put the environment at the heart of their planning.
'Unlocking Nature has undoubtedly contributed to an improvement in the environment for staff and men at Wandsworth, and I sincerely thank everyone involved for this. You will leave a legacy which will be maintained and appreciated in years to come” commented Jeanne Bryant, Governor of HMP Wandsworth.