Send for Kate: Duchess visits local prison

ROYALTY dropped in on Send Prison on Friday to witness first-hand the work a dedicated charity is doing with some of the country’s toughest female prisoners.

The historic visit was HRH the Duchess of Cambridge’s first ever to a prison; and in a two-hour tour she spent time with current and ex-inmates to better understand the type of life that can manifest from addiction.

Speaking during her solo engagement at the locked-down prison, home to 282 convicts, Kate said she was appreciative of the women who had shared their difficult personal stories with her.

The Duchess (right) added: “I was reminded today how addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues, and how substance misuse can play such a destructive role in vulnerable people’s lives.

“I saw that a failure to intervene early in life to tackle mental health problems and other challenges can have profound consequences for people throughout their lives.”

Kate was a guest at the request of the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust – a charity who work in 26 jails up and down
the UK.

Independent research shows that RAPt’s intensive treatment programme leads to a 65 per cent reduction in re-offending. To date 450 women have graduated from the programme.

Among the former prisoners to meet the Duchess was 36-year-old Kirsty Lacey, who had been a prisoner at HMP Send when she took part in the RAPt programme in 2008.

She moved to an open prison in 2012 and was released last year. Kirsty told the Duchess about her journey to recovery and the part that RAPt played in helping her overcome her addiction.

She is now a Programme Manager for User Voice, a charity that works with ex-offenders and service providers to bring about positive change within the criminal justice system. She has returned to HMP Send for her work on a number of occasions, was married last year, and recently found out that she is expecting a baby.

Kirsty said: “If it wasn’t for the RAPt programme and the support they have given me since, I would not be living this life I am now – one that is beyond my wildest dreams.”

Kate was equally generous in her praise of the organisation, adding: “It is encouraging to learn how charities like RAPt are offering specialist support to help people break the cycle of addiction and look forward to a positive and crime-free life.”

For every 100 people who complete the RAPt treatment programme, an estimated £6.3 million is saved on reduced crime and
re-sentencing.

But at present only three per cent of drug dependent prisoners have access to the programme, something the trust’s CEO Mike Trace wants to change.

He said: “The work we do at Send, and in many prisons across the country, shows that anyone is capable of real change.

“Many more prisoners could benefit from these services, along with their families, communities and wider society.

“We’re hugely grateful to the Duchess for visiting our programme to help highlight these important and often
hidden issues.”

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