Cooperation with the University of York

Since autumn 2019, the cooperation of the Research and Development Institute of the Academy of Justice with the University of York (Great Britain) concerning the development of a programme to prevent self-harm among prisoners based on scientific evidence and the assumption of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy has been thriving, as shown among others by the university’s official announcements on special websites.

Information on the International Adaptation of Problem-Solving Skills (IAPSS) project for people in custody in Poland, based on the experience of the British prison system, can be found on the website:

According to the assumptions and partnership arrangements, the main objective of the IAPSS project is to train penitentiary staff and to create a training framework using psycho-educational materials so that the skills acquired by prison staff will translate directly into suicide prevention among prisoners. The different stages of the project are based on research conducted among prison staff with a view to selecting the most effective form of action adapted to the Polish prison system.

The information on the University of York’s main website, on the other hand, refers to a mental health justice group working at national and international level, led by Amanda Perry, PhD.

The group’s general objective is to implement programmes aimed at prevention of mental health problems in prisoners as well as to carry out systematic evaluation reviews and synthesise research evidence. Specific objectives relate, among others, to the assessment and review of suicidal behaviour in prisons, the use of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy in helping those who self-harm or the development of a new suicide risk monitoring tool to support the management of ‘people at risk’ in custody or prison (including through collaboration with the University of Leeds, the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford).

To date, three of the four phases of bilateral cooperation between the Academy of Justice and the University of York have been completed:

I. Training a group of Prison Service officers in the use of the Problem Solving technique, as part of a programme to develop problem solving skills in difficult situations.

II. Process of translating psycho-educational materials to develop a Polish training package (practical script, video, didactic monograph).

III. Consultations with prison staff to assess the practical application of the materials developed and work on a Polish video animation through which skills development using the Problem Solving technique is demonstrated.

The final phase of the project involve a randomised controlled clinical trial to evaluate the impact of using the technique based on the training materials in a group of inmates. As part of the project, 100 inmates with non-psychotic mental disorders from the wards of the organisational units of the Prison Service are planned to be surveyed.

On 28 April 2021, the Academy of Justice and the University of York, organised a Polish-British webinar to discuss the activities undertaken so far as part of the joint research project.

The webinar pointed out the effectiveness of the Problem Solving programme in UK prisons (based on interviews with inmates), the possibility of using technology to support the training process, while the workshops fostered coping skills. The Polish party reported the results of research conducted so far on the evaluation of the implementation of individual elements of the programme, adequately to the Polish prison reality.

Source: A.E. Perry et al., The effect of a peer-led problem-support mentor intervention on self-harm and violence in prison: An interrupted time series analysis using routinely collected prison data. E Clinical Medicine (2020); see: