Hello friend,

Back to my favourite subject…

Since it was revealed by the government that the SOPT had been a complete failure (see blog: 1O3), the psychology department department here appears to be having some problems..

Firstly, the head of psychology is leaving; no idea why but it seems a little coincidental; sinking ship! Then, some of the psychologists have revealed that funding for the Thinking Skills Programme (TSP) is being withdrawn.

I’ve done this course: oh, my word, where to begin. I’ll sum it up in two words: patronising and pointless. TSP was another one of their flagship courses. If it was yielding results, why withdraw the funds?

Finally, it was revealed by a governor that the government are going to be restructuring prison psychology. Whilst I wasn’t present at that particular meeting with prisoners, the words relayed to me were that psychology were going to be “removed from prisons over the next 2 or 3 years”; a whole new approach is being developed. Time will tell whether that ‘new approach’ will end up being the disasterous white elephant that prison psychology has become.

Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 4th February 2018

10 Comments on "2018-16-Psychology"

  • I wonder what is going to replace it. I’ve heard that some prisoners don’t like being told what to think by 22 year old trainee Psychologists.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Sorry for delay in responding to your comment! I don’t have direct access to the site. Great question, but my reply is a bit too long to dictate over the phone. It’s in the post, come back in a couple of weeks.

    • Hi Sarah, great question. The whole issue of rehabilitation is much too complex to sum up in a few words… but I’ll give it ago.

      There is no magic bullet. What might work for one prisoner won’t necessarily work for another; and therein lies the problem. Whilst offering different avenues for rehabilitation, the system does not offer diversity; it’s one size fits all approach.

      There is, however, one consistently proven approach (lots of studies support this) – education. If the government redirected the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of funding away from failed initiatives (such as Psychology) into a much wider variety and levels of academic, and skills based, education the taxpayers would start to see a noticeable reduction in recidivism.

      Education works on so many levels: employment and self-employment options; achievement and self-esteem; life enrichment; fulfillment of potential – I could go on but it is the sense of purpose which generates hope. In short, education already exists as the replacement.

      As for prisoners not liking being told what to think by a 22 year old trainee psychologist; yes, for some that will be true. For others, it will be because they are (mainly) female. There are a lot of fragile male egos in here who cannot deal with emasculation. My own personal issue has nothing to do with age, gender r being a trainee; it is simply a matter of competence.

      All I have ever experienced in my 16 years of dealing with prison psychologists (trainee or qualified) is mass indoctrination, confirmation bias and the resulting incompetence. They are masters of manipulation; they must be to have conned the government and the public for over 25 years; fleecing the taxpayers of millions of pounds, while returning no meaningful results.

      I recommend you read ‘Bad Psychology’ by Robert A. Forde. He formerly worked in prisons as a (qualified) psychologist; his book blows the whistle on their malpractice and incompetence.

      Sarah, thanks again for taking the time to leave your question; keep them coming. Graham.

  • Hi Graham. I enjoyed reading “Bad Psychology” by Robert A. Forde, it was very…interesting. Have you read “Stories of the law and how it’s broken” by The Secret Barrister?

    • Hi Sarah,
      Wow! You read the book; it’s a real eyeopener. The Secret Barrister book has been mentioned to me a couple of times by other prisoners and now you’ve recommended it I will get on to it; I work in the library anyway.
      Take care, Graham.

      • Hi Sarah,
        Yes, the library has the ‘Secret Barrister Book’ but it has been sent to an outside library. I’ve reserved it for when it comes back. I’ll let you know what I think when I have read it.
        Take care, Graham.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Got the book, read the book, love the book. I’ve got more to say, I’ll post a longer response in 2 or 3 weeks.
      Hope you are well, take care. Graham

      • Hi Sarah, you did it again… my reply took me off on various tangents. Here’s the succinct version (I’ll put the full version up as a blog): The ‘Secret Barrister’ book was a great read; I went from shock to laughter to despair to anger, and back again. Some of what I read about the English judicial system was astonishing; some, I’ve sadly experienced first-hand.

        I’m now intrigued…what is your interest in the judicial system? Current or previous employee? Solicitor or law student? Prison reformer? Journalist or writer? Or, just an interested member of the public? I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts on this book and ‘Bad Psychology’ from the perspective of a…???

        Take care. Graham.

  • “Bad Psychology” by Dr Forde is well written and an easy read. I’m glad that he wrote an article in the Times (July ’17) to highlight the SOTP scandal and encourage debate before and after the publication of his book (Sept ’17). The book highlights that the victims of the scandal are the offenders stuck in the system and the general public. According to Dr Forde, the new programmes have not been evaluated and are experimental. Finally, I agree with his positive note to recommend the use of less expensive programmes that are supported by rigorous evaluation of the research.

    I guess you should read this book review too –


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