News article

British experience offers Seychelles prison alternatives

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

BHC Victoria has delivered a report setting out non-custodial offender management options to the Government of Seychelles.

High Commissioner Lindsay Skoll delivered the report on probation service options to Seychelles government after an exercise begun in May, intended to combine British expertise with Seychelles capabilities in offender management.

The report was presented to the Minister for Social Affairs, Sports and Culture, Vincent Meriton, who was accompanied by the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan, and Miniser for Education, Macsuzy Mondon.

The report is based upon a series of workshops with criminal justice stakeholders held in Seychelles in March 2014. The workshops were funded by the British High Commission and delivered by Lisa Parker, of the West Yorkshire Probation Trust, at the REFLECS-3 trans-national organised crime fighting centre.

The report recommends a range of alternative sentencing measures which could be introduced in order to reduce the prison population and bring down reoffending rates, whilst continuing to protect the public.

Amongst the recommendations are the use of an early guilty plea scheme, alternatives to custodial sentences, pre-release prison work programmes and post-release community partnerships for vocational training, treatment for substance abuse, sports and exercise.

The workshops were attended by a wide range of interested groups including staff from the prison service, police force, social services, probation services, the judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office and non-governmental organisations.

And while the technical staff were sharing their expertise in the workshops, Ministers, the Chief Justice and the Heads of the Police and Prison services met to discuss the required executive support for the process.

“The UK’s attitude towards prisoner management today is the fruit of many years of trial and error. As our united history has ensured that Britain and Seychelles share many of the same values, I hope that the recommendations in this report will allow us to pass on the lessons learnt from much bitter experience, and where we also have reason for hope. The strength of this report is that it specifically draws on Seychelles own context and legal provisions,” said the British High Commissioner, Lindsay Skoll.

“Vital to the success of these recommendations is the common roots of the British and Seychelles legal system, both of which are founded on the understanding that prison is not, indeed must not be, just a form of punishment, but must also be a vehicle through which the prisoner can be rehabilitated and prepared to rejoin society.”

“We must look beyond the time spent behind bars and understand that, upon release, every ex-convict needs to regain their place in society and establish their role as a productive citizen. And to recognise that they cannot achieve this alone. That they will need the support of family and friends, of the government, of employers and of the excellent, dedicated staff of the probation services,” said the High Commissioner.