You are here

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. OU law students collaborate with prison learners to host radio show tackling legal issues

OU law students collaborate with prison learners to host radio show tackling legal issues

Law students have been working with prison learners to record a series of radio programmes tackling legal issues, for broadcast on prison radio.

The pioneering project by the Open Justice Centre has just finished its second iteration at HMP Altcourse – a Category B men's private prison in Merseyside – and is expected to roll out to other prisons soon.

Six final-year students from the W360 Justice in Action module collaborated with prisoners to identify legal topics that mattered to the prisoners. These included human rights, release on licence to family, employment and housing law. The law students researched the topics, later returning to HMP Altcourse to record the 'Castaway' radio shows for broadcast to prisoners on Radio Altcourse.

Known as 'Legal Eagles', the project is the brainchild of the Open Justice Centre, which provides free legal advice to those who may struggle to access appropriate legal support through other means.

From February until the end of March, the students had regular access to the prison.

Hugh McFaul, Lecturer in Law and Chair of W360 Justice in Action, said: "This project is a reimagining of our core OU ideals, about being open to people, places and methods. We united two different groups of people, giving them experience of collaborating, with great educational benefits to both. The students and prisoners are both working on becoming positive contributors to local communities and wider society."

Sarah Couling was one of the students who took part. She said: "My perception of prison life has drastically changed. A custodial sentence with rehabilitation at the forefront is a wonderful thing. I gained so much from the experience and I am so truly grateful to have met these fine young men."

She added: "I fully support this type of prison programme and encourage anyone with the opportunity to engage with prisoners to jump in. Programmes like this are breaking down social barriers and creating positive social change. They help to change people's attitudes towards different people, shatter incorrect preconceived ideas about prisons, and benefit both students and prisoners alike."

The project is being implemented with NOVUS, an organisation which strives to educate offenders and raise their aspirations. NOVUS' Information, Advice and Guidance Worker Pete Tinsley said: "It can be hard for prisoners to find answers to specific legal questions – we have law books in the library but it can be daunting for many of the prisoners. The Legal Eagles are able to clear up their queries."

Legal Eagles is one of many student-led prison projects based around legal research and guidance. To date, the Open Justice Centre has run projects with over 70 students, serving prisoners in nine prisons across England and Wales. ​

Open Justice logo

Blog posts

Upcoming Events

No events

See All

Contact us

Get in touch with the Open Justice Team

Email the team