Repeat offending rates remain high in many high-income countries, and have not followed the downward trend of violence reported in these countries. In England and Wales, prisoners have been reconvicted at a 2-year rate of 55%–60% for the past decade. With about 30 million individuals entering and leaving prison per year worldwide, the contribution of this population to societal violence is high, and an estimated 20% of all arrests in the USA, and 18% of new crimes in the UK, are by former prisoners.

The Panacea Project works specifically on the following key components which have been proven to reduce reoffending as set out by the Ministry of Justice Analytical Series for Transforming Rehabilitation: the summary of evidence on reducing reoffending.

Addressing addictive behaviour

We do this via our step system program and include treatment to NICE standards. Encouraging abstinence from their addictive behaviour. A road map to healing and recovery, where each step is incremental to the next denoting a positive change in function and behaviour. Its progressive and requires growth. We address these behaviours at the early prevention stage before the need to criminalise, then at intervention level within the prison and finally at integration level, back into the community where we will witness the program's success in reducing reoffending behaviour. If addictive behaviour is addressed as it is in our specialist program it will be less likely someone will lose control on alcohol and less like to commit a violent crime. The same goes for drugs, if the offender works through these addictions during our proven program then they are less likely to commit crime to fund their addictions upon release (Holloway 2005). 

Addressing mental health problems

This is a key element of the Panacea Project. We deal effectively with anxiety, panic and depression. These symptoms are prevalent more in offenders than in the general population (Singleton 1998). The collective techniques in this program and its supporting evidence and research prove that our techniques reduce such symptoms of mental health. 

Addressing negative relationships

Throughout the Panacea Project service users become increasingly self-aware and understand what serves them and what harms them. We identify the type of peers who hold them back and teach the difference between authentic relations and interactions and those which are not. We encourage restorative behaviour where safe to do so and encourage amends and improved relations with close friends and family (Petrosino 2009). These connections of authentic support and love will be a positive impact on the offenders life with less inclination towards anti-social behaviour (Bales 2008). Restorative Justice Conferencing is discussed during the Panacea Project and added to the list of useful contacts for the service users to consider as this too is a key element of making amends and reducing the likelihood of reoffending (Marshall 1999).

Mindfulness & Meditation

This is again, another key component that has been proven to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. With techniques that have been developed by our founder, a Mindfulness Master Practitioner and specialising in MBRP (Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention) to NICE standards with Bangor University. This project leads to a much greater awareness of ones own feelings and inevitably past pitfalls and pains. Therefore, this awareness is also felt towards others. Offenders are able to relate more to victims and others effected by their crimes by appreciating the pain of others (Dr Shonin 2014). 

Sport and desistance

There is widespread recognition for sport in the male estate and how it improves criminal behaviour in the community (Nichols 2007). The prison services PEI advocates sporting activities that also fulfil wider resettlement policy agendas incorporating thinking and behaviour patterns. However, limited thought has been given to the female estate and their special or additional needs as a female. Especially those with complex needs most females in custody dislike the gym environment. Panacea Project’s main physical activity is Yoga. Sport England’s Active Lives Survey indicates that 27% more females are inactive in comparison to 24% males, and this level of inactivity for females increases dramatically with the lower socioeconomic groups and especially those in hard to reach areas such as the prison environment.

A lot of female prisoners can find themselves isolated and confined to a small area most of the day. Perhaps it is not their desire to be inactive yet their daily prison life and current routine limits them. Physical activity during our yoga sessions have been shown to support mental as well as physical well-being. In the limited space provided in cells, yoga is an activity which can be incorporated into their daily routine, whilst also supporting their mental wellbeing. Most females in prison have suffered abuse or neglect, their situation is worsened by their lack of confidence, body issues, past pitfalls and abuse. They feel vulnerable and often unsafe in the gym environment within the prison. The competitiveness and sometimes aggression of contact sports within typical gym games and activities make them even less inclined to get fit and active. Thus, they isolate and their insecurities, lack of activity, lack of physical exercise and desire to be healthier is compounded as they get progressively worse in areas of their physical, emotional and mental state (Meek 2014). 

Mentoring and responsibility

A great tool tool we have developed to help reduce re-offending. Research shows that having someone believe in you and look up to you with interactions communicating belief, hope and purpose encourages positive change as the offender has something of value to offer other people within the community. We encourage acts of service as a mentor and peer guider when graduated from of the Panacea Project. It helps prisoners get out of ‘self’ and have a purpose of helping others. This purpose is with empathy and truly appreciated by other offenders who have gone through similar situations and trauma.

Natural pain relief and tonic

An aspect we have certainly not to be overlooked in reducing the likelihood of reoffending. In the past an offender may have reached for a drink or drug to self soothe and numb physical or emotional pain. The Panacea Project reduces these symptoms with natural alternative ways to heal and soothe. Therefore, less likely are the offenders to steal for drugs or commit violent crimes after excessive drinking. These natural tools for emotional and pain management will lead to a more cost effective HMPPS over time by reducing many health care costs.

Offender behaviour programs

We create a new behaviour pathway for the better thus reducing reoffending. The Panacea Project does exactly this with all the methods previously discussed by way of a clear structure, group support, emotional management and problem solving, social learning theory all delivered by appropriately trained, trauma-informed practitioners with quality assurances of such delivery. It is primed to run alongside and support other interventions. Especially those which may already be over-subscribed or those which can only take medium to long-term offenders due to the length of the course. 

Addressing employment needs

For the open female estate we are able to fund a limited amount of places for dedicated students to partake in their Yoga Teacher Training 200 hour certificate. Recognised by the world authority and governing body on yoga, Yoga Alliance, this will be part of our on-going commitment as a social enterprise to offer those in need the opportunity to become a teacher, co-ordinate their work on release so they can serve others regardless of their back ground or financial ability (Sarno 2001). 

Holloway, Bennett & Farrington (2005) Effectiveness of drug treatment in reducing Drug-related Crime: a systematic review, London, Home Office Online Report 26/05.

Singleton et al. (1998) op. cit; Light et al. (2013) op. cit.; For prevalence among offenders on Community Orders, see Cattell et al. (2013) op. cit., and OMCCS Wave 1 Questionnaire Tables:

Petrosino et al (2009) ‘The Role of the Family in Crime and Delinquency: Evidence from Prior Quantitative Reviews’, Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 6(2), p108-132.

Bales & Mears (2008) ‘Inmate social ties and the transition to society: Does visitation reduce recidivism?’, in Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 45/3: 287-321;

Marshall (1999) Restorative Justice: An overview, London: Home Office.

Dr Edo Shonin, Gordon & Griffiths, Corrections Today 2014 US

Meek & Lewis, Promoting Well-Being and Desistance Through Sport and Physical Activity: The Opportunities and Barriers Experienced by Women in English Prisons

Rex (1999) ‘Desistance from Offending: Experiences of Probation’, Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 36(4): 366–83. 

Sarno et al. (2001) Working their way out of offending: an evaluation of two probation employment programmes, cited in Sapouna et al. (2011) op. cit.