issue brief

Prison Overcrowding

The British prison population has been increasing rapidly in recent years, and the prison estate has struggled to keep up with the rising demand. As prisons are expensive and take a long time to build, the result of a lack of capacity has been overcrowding, which is when prisons have to house more inmates than they are designed for. Read More

Prison Rehabilitation

Despite its barbaric origins in the medieval dungeon and torture chamber, since the late 18th century prisons have combined elements of punishment with elements of rehabilitation. As the French philosopher Michel Foucault put it, punishment shifted over time from the disciplining of the body to the disciplining of the "soul".Read More

Private Prisons

Since the early 1990s, British Governments have issued contracts to private firms for both the construction and the day-to-day running of prisons.Read More


Prostitution describes the offering and provision of sexual services for financial gain.Read More

Public Libraries

Public libraries in the UK are collections of books and other informational resources maintained by local authorities for the benefit of the public. Dating back over 150 years, many of the services provided by public libraries are free.Read More

Public Sector Net Cash Requirement

The Public Sector Net Cash Requirement (PSNCR) was formerly known as the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR). It represents the annual fiscal deficit (in cash terms): that is, the shortfall between public sector revenues and expenditure. In accruals terms, this deficit is known as Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB).Read More

Public spending

Public spending is expenditure incurred by the "public sector" in the course of its activities. The public sector, in organisational and economic terms, is the sum of those parts of the economy formally under the control of or responsible to the state, including both central and local government.Read More

Quantitative easing

Quantitative easing is a process used occasionally by central banks to invigorate a sluggish economy when all the usual methods have failed.Read More


Rainforests are evergreen woodlands, characterised by heavy precipitation averaging around 100 inches per year and a continuous canopy of leaves. Read More

Regional Development Agencies

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) were non-departmental public bodies, charged with driving economic development, business efficiency, investment and competitiveness, employment, skills and sustainable development in their regions.Read More

Right to Buy

"Right to Buy" is a scheme under which longstanding local authority tenants are entitled to purchase their homes at a heavily discounted price.Read More

Road Pricing

Road pricing is a system of charging drivers to reflect car usage, with frequent drivers paying more than infrequent drivers. Normally, schemes are skewed to encourage drivers to use less congested routes or drive at less busy times. In this way supporters of road pricing claim it can reduce congestion and is a fairer way of charging drivers than an indiscriminate road tax. Read More

School Testing Regime

School pupils in the UK are subjected to extensive testing throughout their school careers under the terms of the National Curriculum.Read More

Scottish Independence

Scotland was an independent country until the 1707 Acts of Union, which united Scotland with England (and Wales) in the Kingdom of Great Britain.Read More

Scottish Parliament – guide

'There shall be a Scottish parliament' Scotland Act 1998, section 1(1)Read More

Sexual health

Sexual health refers to a raft of topics relating to gynaecology and urinary medicine (GUM), reproduction and family health and sex and relationship education. Read More


In the UK, people commonly smoke cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Read More

Smoking ban

The smoking ban came into force in Scotland on March 26th 2006. In Wales, it was enforced from April 2nd. In Northern Ireland, the ban came into effect on April 30th. England followed suit on July 1st 2007, with the entire UK now officially smoke-free in public places.Read More

Specialist Schools

Specialist Schools are state secondary schools that aim to be local centres of excellence in their chosen specialism, and which to that end, benefitted from public funding under the "Specialist Schools Programme" and from private sector sponsorship.Read More