Prisons after Woolf: Reform through Riot

Prisons after Woolf: Reform through Riot

Prisons after Woolf: Reform through Riot

Prisons after Woolf: Reform through Riot


For the past few years prisons have attracted much media attention, due to substantial increases in the prison population and the deteriorating conditions in which prisoners are held. In addition, there has been industrial action by prison officers and a series of disturbances and riots by prisoners.
Following the riot at Strangeways prison in Manchester in 1990 Lord Justice Woolf was called to conduct an inquiry into the riots and their causes. Prisons After Woolfserves as a basic source of information on prison issues and reviews them in the light of the Woolf proposals. In so doing, its contributors, drawn from all areas of the legal and prison system, present an important broad perspective on the major questions in penology today.


The idea for this book emerged in 1991 when we were both commuting to London and regularly meeting at 6.00am, courtesy of the Oxford Bus Company. Whilst our fellow passengers sensibly went back to sleep we discussed the Woolf Report and planned this book. Dark mornings are notoriously disorientating and perhaps all that can be said in retrospect is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Both of us had been involved in the Perrie Lecturers since they began in 1986. They were designed to be annual events which would focus on current issues concerned with prisons and would aim to bring together prison staff, policy makers, academics and others concerned with prison affairs. In 1991 the Lectures were entitled Prisons After Woolf and were given by Silvia Casale, Joe Pilling and Lord Harris (see Prison Service Journal 85, pp 21-44). We were aware, however, that a single day conference could hardly do justice to the broad canvas of the Woolf Report. A book could provide a more comprehensive examination and would be more accessible. We therefore invited academics and practitioners to reflect on the application of the principles and proposals in the Woolf Report.

It is now two years since the Woolf Report and the Government’s response were published. At a time when political attention is focused on agency status, new management and ‘privatisation’, it is an appropriate moment to reinforce Woolf’s agenda. We are most grateful to all our contributors for enabling us to do that.

We would like to thank all the authors for their hard work and for their patience during the inevitable delays in completing the manuscript. A special word of thanks is also owed to Laura Masters who undertook the secretarial duties. We appreciate too the helpfulness of staff at the Home Office Library. Others who have provided invaluable support and assistance along the way include Andrew Ashworth, Jack Wright and our colleagues on the Perrie Lectures Committee: Colin Archer, Janet Harber, John Thomas-Ferrand, Mike Walker, Trevor Williams, David Wilson and Jackie Worrall. Finally, we thank our families and close friends for their patience with us during the protracted period of this project.


Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.