In a room in Wolverhampton, a small group of people gather together to discuss their community: What’s going well? What are our challenges? What can we change? What can we learn from one another? They share their experiences and grievances, discuss their differing opinions and suggest ways in which they can make their community a better place to be.

But this isn’t a local council meeting or school group, this is a community circle within a prison, made up of prisoners and staff alike.

When you hear the term prison violence, what do you think?

A punch up over the food counter? Prison Break style riots and crude comments about bars of soap in the shower? Or maybe the gang and drug related assaults and deaths which hit the news?

These are all real concerns affecting the safety and wellbeing of people in prison across the country. But too often these images of physical violence mask another, very real and equally dangerous, form of hidden violence most commonly experienced by women in prison.

Elizabeth Fry visiting a prison

Leap Confronting Conflict began life over 30 years ago as part of The Leaveners, a Quaker community arts organisation that provided creative opportunities to communities until its closure earlier this year. Then called Leaveners Experimental Arts for Peace (L.E.A.P), the project was founded as witness to the Quaker peace testimony. There are four testimonies by which Quakers strive to live their lives:

Record breaking is supposed to be a cause for celebration. But there isn’t much to celebrate in record increases in UK prison violence. 

In June 2017 a new London Knife Crime Strategy was released in response to a three decade rise in knife crime with injury across the country, and an 11% rise in knife crime in London. In the strategy’s opening the Mayor rightly recognises the potential of all young people regardless of their circumstances and the need to give young people skills, resources and confidence to get out of knife crime.

The report outlines the scale of knife crime in London today: