About the Criminal Justice Programme

The Bell Foundation's Criminal Justice Programme seeks to break down the language barrier to accessing justice and rehabilitation for individuals in contact with the criminal justice system for whom English is an Additional Language.

The Criminal Justice Programme

The Foundation commissioned two pieces of research “A prison within a prison” (2014) and “The language barrier to rehabilitation” (2016), both of which highlight the major impact language can have on the experiences of individuals in prison. The research also highlights a lack of data around this for offenders both in prison and in the community. 

The Foundation’s partnerships and research have found that individuals with English as an Additional Language are often an ‘invisible population’, especially in prison. The Foundation is now investigating through partners how the English language barrier impacts an individual’s experiences and outcomes from their interaction with the criminal justice system, whether as a victim, offender, defendant, or witness.

The Bell Foundation’s Theory of Change

The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Programme works with partners to identify the impact of the language barrier and to use this learning to directly improve outcomes for victims and offenders as well as to change the policy and processes that support them. 

The programme has four key objectives: 

Objective 1

Building an evidence base

Research whether a lack of English language impacts access to rehabilitation and justice and if so, how

Research partners

  • Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICPR)
  • Victim Support
  • Centre for Justice Innovation
Objective 2

System change and thought leadership

Use research, funding and influencing to change the system’s response to the needs of individuals with English as an Additional Language in the criminal justice system

The programme continues to

  • Be active in creating and sharing tools and resources
  • Raise awareness of ESOL needs
  • Improve ESOL teaching in prison
  • Support organisations working with victims of crime
Objective 3

Capacity building of the criminal justice sector

Develop and embed training and resources to improve the sector’s ability to respond to the needs of individuals with English as an Additional Language by working with statutory bodies and third sector organisations

Programme impact and reach

  • 8,000+ offenders with ESOL needs reached
  • 1,000+ downloads of the ESOL Tutor Resources
  • 96% of prisons in England and Wales reached through grant funding
  • £1m of grants committed
Objective 4

Developing a workstream on victims

Develop partnerships to meet the needs of victims of crime with English as an Additional Language, focusing where possible on sustainable initiatives and approaches

Supported charities and organisations

  • Why Me?
  • Victim Support
  • Harrow Law Centre
  • Law Centres Network
  • Hibiscus Initiatives

Partnerships

The Bell Foundation works in partnership to change policy and practice for individuals involved with the criminal justice system.

Supporting Victims

A grant scheme to fund organisations supporting victims of crime who have English as an Additional Language.

I enjoyed today immensely as it was an opportunity to meet other colleagues in ESOL but also to exchange ideas. Having the trauma informed session was brilliant, appropriately pitched and very interesting. ESOL Tutor

Resources

In partnership with the Learning & Work Institute, The Bell Foundation has published an ESOL Tutor Resource Pack to support tutors working in the secure estate and in community rehabilitation/probation settings.

Research

Research is an integral part of the Foundation’s work in criminal justice, it guides the direction of the Foundation’s work and resources and it builds the evidence base for policy and practice recommendations and system change.

Our partners

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The Criminal Justice Programme seeks to break down the language barrier to accessing justice and rehabilitation for individuals in contact with the criminal justice system for whom English is an Additional Language.