Royal College of Nursing Representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice, shaping health policies

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Our work

How we represent forum members

  • Promoting current guidance and best evidence in justice and forensic nursing practice.
  • Developing guidance for nurses and HCAs spanning all areas within justice and forensic nursing.
  • Carrying out and critiquing research.
  • Organising conferences and study events to share good practice and network.
  • Working with other organisations and groups to develop guidance and competencies.
  • Our strategy

    • Providing an effective and energetic committee.
    • Engaging with members utilising various means.
    • Seeking and supporting professional development opportunities.
    • Ensuring active visibility of committee members within the RCN.

    What we are currently working on

    There has been a great deal of activity since RCN Congress debated a resolution in 2018 on prison nursing.

    This activity included the development of the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA) which brings together nine trade unions and professional organisations representing people working in the justice sector.

    This update focuses on recent Joint JUPA activity, particularly the political/parliamentary engagement through this alliance. There has been a lot of JUPA activity relating to wider safety issues for staff working in prisons but also linking with HMPPS in relation to COVID-19 issues.

    JUPA had invited Lucy Frazer, Minister of State for Justice, and other interested politicians to the JUPA Safety Summit held on 25 February 2020. The JUPA unions working together and based on feedback at the Safety Summit produced the Safe Inside Prisons Charter.

    Following the summit JUPA wrote to the Minister providing an update on the JUPA Safety Summit which the Minister had unfortunately been unable to attend.

    The Health and Safety Executive, who attended the Safety Summit, then invited JUPA, for the first time, to engage with the HSE 'Private Sector Custody and Detention Health and Safety Management Forum Meeting'.

    The Justice Unions Parliamentary Group (separate and different from the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance) then organised a Westminster Hall Debate on 18 March 2020. Some of the unions in the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance are also members of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group and this does mean that some parliamentary activity takes off through that route. The RCN is not one of the unions in the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, but through JUPA, can engage collaboratively.

    JUPA then had some further engagement with HMPPS, including the HMPPS Deputy Director responsible for Safety, particularly raising issues relating to the COVID-19 response in prisons and including issues for workers in prisons not employed by the prison service such as nursing and health care staff.

    JUPA unions were working on COVID-19 related recovery and had expected to discuss these with HMPPS Director General Phil Copple, however, the planned meeting was cancelled. As a result JUPA then sent a letter along with the JUPA Recover Strategy (for COVID-19 issues in prisons) to the Secretary of State for Justice. JUPA received a response from the Secretary of State and very soon afterwards we received contact from HMPPS to re-arrange the 'postponed' meeting with Phil Copple. This meeting is now scheduled for Monday 22 June 2020.

    Through our engagement in the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance and other activity engaging with health care providers and other organisations in the justice sector we will continue to work to improve the working and professional conditions for RCN members and all nursing staff in the sector.

    Please do make contact with your steering committee to share your experiences of working in the sector and to build your network of support.

    You can also contact Dr Liz Walsh, Professional Lead for the Nursing in Justice and Forensic Health Care Forum or Leigh Murray, National Officer (Employment Relations).

    Prevention of natural deaths in custody

    The RCN Nursing in Justice and Forensic Health Care Forum have been working with the Ministerial Board - Independent Advisory Panel for Deaths in Custody over the past year. 

    The RCN hosted a stakeholder event in November 2019 at RCN HQ  where there was a debate regarding the avoidable natural deaths in prison custody. This event resulted in a report published in September 2020 which sets out key recommendations which it is hoped that stakeholders will respond to in order to ‘put things right’.

    The RCN and the forum committee have been heavily involved in this work and IAP/ RCN have written to Ministers to request further discussions on the recommendations and required actions.

    View the report: Prevention of natural deaths in custody.

    The RCN professional lead, Ann Norman was interviewed by ‘Inside Time’- a weekly online and monthly printed newspaper for prisoners and detainees following their reporting on this work. See: Too many avoidable prisoner deaths.

    Time and space videos

    Time and Space - Enabling defusing activities - This leaflet explains that making time for nursing teams to defuse after challenging or difficult situations can support their psychological wellbeing and enhance their self care and management. 

    These mindfulness based videos have been created for nursing staff. The six videos each cover a different stage of your day, from starting your day to arriving home. Each video provides practical techniques which you can put into practice. Watch the videos

    Page last updated - 13/02/2024