We work in prisons and with offenders and ex-offenders in the community to help reduce violent behaviour
“AVP was to be my turning point. There was no right answer – nor wrong ones. What pleased me more was that other people could see the changes I was making.”
Prison workshop participant
AVP originated in American prisons in 1975 when prisoners collaborated with experts in group work to produce an effective violence-reduction programme using a humanistic approach. AVP Britain started working in prisons in 1992 and has since worked in over 30 institutions.
Violence is widespread in prisons. In 2009 there were 15,180 recorded assaults and in 2008 over 6,000 prisoners were known to be committing acts of self-harm. The prevalence of personality disorders among inmates is estimated at 57-64%.
By working with prisoners to handle their conflicts, the risk of violent outcomes can fall. AVP is an informal, highly effective approach combining experiential learning with practical skills training. It is readily accessible to people of all backgrounds, including those with a low level of literacy or mental health problems.
Last year AVP ran five workshops for 57 people in Kilmarnock, Shepton Mallet and Woodhill prisons. Two of these workshops carried the additional benefit of Open College Network (OCN) credits in Developing Interpersonal Skills, supporting prisoners to work towards gaining a qualification.
In some of our workshops prison officers have participated alongside inmates, which has led to increased trust and helped to reduce violence on prison wings. 14 of our volunteer facilitators are inmates, having completed their initial AVP training while in prison.
We are responding to prison service cuts by increasing our work with ex-offenders
Despite the very low cost of AVP’s volunteer-based approach, it still costs a prison to host us. Due to significant cutbacks in their budgets, it has been more difficult for governors to invite AVP into their institutions.
We are now responding to this changed situation by increasing our work with ex-offenders and offenders in the community, thanks to grants from the Robertson Trust and City Bridge Trust.
Workshops for ex-offenders were held in London with the Foundation Training Company and St Mungo’s in 2011.
Where a prison is unable to host AVP workshops, we offer a six-week distance-learning course, Facing Up To Conflict, which is free to prisoners - contact us for more information.