Prison Iman Scoops Top Justice Award

Prison Iman Scoops Top Justice  Award

A Muslim member of the Prison Service Chaplaincy today scooped Britain’s top justice award for his work to bring down re-offending.

Dr Mohamed El Sharkawy was awarded the Justice Shield for 2007 for a course he devised at The Mount Prison in Hertfordshire which encourages offenders to accept the damage done to victims of their crimes, and to work towards reconciliation with their own families.

The Justice Shield recognises the most outstanding contribution to justice in England and Wales by Criminal Justice System staff or volunteers from police to Youth Offending Teams to victim and witness support organisations. The Shield is the top award at the national Justice Awards which boasts a top level judging panel including the Home Secretary, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General.

Dr El Sharkawy received the Justice Shield today from the Home Secretary at the national Justice Awards ceremony in London, presented by BBC Crimewatch’s Fiona Bruce. He also won the category for most outstanding individual contribution to working with offenders.

Dr El Sarkawy said:

“It’s all too much for me! I think everyone at the prison will value this and I promise this award will encourage me to do even more. The course has been built on the three major faiths and this has helped me to attract prisoners and help them to become better people.”

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, who was on the judging panel, said:

“I offer my congratulations and thanks to Dr El Sharkawy for the inspiration and encouragement he has shown to make offenders aware of the damage they have caused, turn them away from crime and seek support and reconciliation from their often estranged families.

“The hurt and damage done to victims and witnesses is not forgotten when an offender is sent to jail. This is a fine example of the Prison Chaplaincy seeking real contrition from inmates and giving them a chance to move on beyond crime, regardless of what faith they may or may not have.”

Dr El Sarkawy became the Imam at HMP The Mount in 2002 and quickly became aware that some inmates were not comfortable attending the Bible-based offender behaviour course provided. He devised a new course in his own time, using his own materials.

The new course explores the story of Joseph’s imprisonment, release, forgiveness of his family and reconciliation. Joseph’s story forms part of the teachings of Christianity, Judaism and Islam but the themes are equally relevant to inmates of other faiths or beliefs and those who are non-religious.

Over 300 prisoners have been through the course. They have to consider the damage their actions have done to victims and witnesses, the community and also their own families. They then look at how they can make up for their actions through reparations or apologies and seek forgiveness and reconciliation so they can move forward.

In many cases, the victim of an offender’s crime is also a member of the offender’s family. Dr El Sarkawy has made many home visits to estranged families and organised prison visits.

On a personal level his work helps both the victims and the perpetrators to put the hurt behind them. On a professional level, it helps to give offenders the family support and the consideration for others to stop them reoffending and so help to bring down crime.

The full list of winners are:

Individual Award Winners

1. Outstanding achievement in caring for victims
Joint winners:
Pravina Patel, London Victim Support. Pravina specialises in dealing with victims or rape and violent crime. She established drop-in centres at hospitals and community centres in the Harrow area where vulnerable and intimidated victims could find help. She started 15 years ago and officially retired 2 years ago but has still helped over 350 people in the last year alone.
Yvonne Rhoden, Metropolitan Police. Yvonne is a senior officer in the Violent Crime Unit. She has delivered changes to the way the Met responds to forced marriage and honour-based crime and in doing so has changed lives.

2. Outstanding achievement in caring for witnesses
Sue Younger, Nottinghamshire Young Witness Service Manager, set up the county’s first child-focussed witness support in 2003 and has since expanded it across Nottinghamshire.

3. Outstanding contribution to tackling youth crime
Alan Lamb, Youth Advocate with Sunderland Youth Offending Service, Northumbria, and plasterer by trade, has taken young offenders under intensive supervision programmes into the community to work on worthwhile projects such as re-decorating the house of a terminally ill cancer patient, a women’s centre and crèche, and a community centre.

4. Outstanding contribution to working with offenders
Mohamed Al Shakarwy, HMP The Mount, Hertfordshire. Also winner of the Justice Shield – see press release details above.

5. Outstanding contribution to engaging communities
Philip Cowlishaw, Dorset Police, was nominated for his work to battle anti-social behaviour on the Cranford Heath estate, one of Europe’s largest housing estates. In the last two years he has made 34 arrests and turned offenders round from drinking and taking drugs in public to helping the community by clearing up a local park.

6. Outstanding commitment to diversity
Sergeant Brian Hughes, Cheshire Police, has helped to transform relations between the police and the large migrant Polish community in Crewe. He has helped to set up a local Polish Association, provide a course in speaking English and persuade recruitment agencies to provide fair working terms and conditions.

7. Long service award for continued commitment and dedication
Reverend Canon Peter Vowles, Greater Manchester Victim Support,for over 30 years of service for Victim Support and his work for minority communities in Greater Manchester

8. Volunteer of the year award
Avril Ainsbury, Volunteer, North Liverpool Community Justice Centre
Avril has been working with communities in Liverpool since 1970. For 22 years, she was involved with the Croxteth Gems project, supporting various members of her local community. After leaving in 2004, she has been an exceptional volunteer working variously as a Custody Suite Visitor, Offender Mentor and Victim Support and Witness Service volunteer.

Team Award Winners

1. Outstanding achievement in caring for victims
Lincolnshire Criminal Justice Board Victim and Witness Volunteer Panel was formed in 2005. It is made up of victims who, despite personal misfortune, bravely shadow front line crime fighters to advise them on how better they can support victims and witnesses.

2. Outstanding achievement in caring for witnesses
The Major Incident Team and Witness Assistance Unit, Merseyside Police.
When a gang member was shot dead by a rival gang as he left the visitors hall at Altcourse Prison, getting witnesses to come forward was a major obstacle. Firstly gang members refused to co-operate with police and secondly anyone who did co-operate was subject to threats and intimidation. The Team overcame the obstacles, built the case and protected the witnesses in order to put the case before the court.

3. Outstanding contribution to tackling youth crime
Spark 2 Life Programme, Metropolitan Police. Based in the Wandsworth area, youth pastor and reformed offender Dez Brown leads the project which goes into schools to target children with bad behaviour and high absenteeism. Through his own experiences, Dez challenges their perceptions of knife, gun and drug culture.

4. Outstanding contribution to working with offenders
Devon and Cornwall Probation Services’s Warbarth Project works on the simple premise that being employed reduces re-offending. Its aim is to help offenders to sell themselves to potential employers, and hopefully start new careers away from crime.

5. Outstanding contribution to engaging local communities
Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council (BNENC). This community based voluntary organisation provides practical help, advice, support and training to residents in the fifth most deprived ward in the UK.
More than 750 residents have been given help on issues ranging from crime prevention to child protection or drug awareness training. A one-to-one service is available for local youngsters at risk of getting involved in low-level crime.

6. Outstanding commitment to divesity
West Yorkshire Crown Prosecution Service Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel selects cases at random and assesses them for strengths, weaknesses and any trends in decision making or case management. Learning points are then fed back to the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and Victim Support. Staff are then charged to ensure that lessons are learned and procedures altered, always with the views of the community in mind.

7. Partnership of the year: best example of joint working across the CJS
Cold Case Rape Investigation Team – Forensic Science Service, London Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police. Combining science-led process with a strong ethos of victim, the cold case team has revisited cases from over the last 20 years. Their work has led to 30 men being convicted of 62 offences in London.

Region: All
Venue: Inside Justice Week Awards
Celebs Attending: Jack Straw Minister for Justic
Press Tickets: Not Available
Sponsorship: Not Available
Press Tickets:
Name: Roisin Wilson
Phone: 020 7035 8735