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Princess Anne presents award to HMP Dovegate Psychologist for her work with autistic inmates

Senior forensic psychologist Yvette Bates received the Butler Trust Commendation from Princess Anne the Princess Royal during the Butler Trust Awards ceremony at St James’ Palace in London.

Ms Bates was one of a select number of UK prison employees to be honoured with the prestigious award, one of the highest honours available to prison worker.

Nominated for the outstanding work she’s done with autistic prisoners at HMP Dovegate, in Marchington, Ms Bates has worked ‘resolutely and consistently’. Her expertise has also been credited with helping staff in the wider prison systems to understand issues that face offenders with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) through an ASD awareness program she has created.

Chairman of the awarding panel, Sir Michael Harrison, said of Ms Bates recognition: ‘Yvette Bates has been pioneering work with offenders with autism as a senior forensic psychologist at HMP Dovegate. People like Yvette are at the forefront of developing and sharing new approaches and expertise. Not only has she had a deep impact at Dovegate, she’s also informed Government thinking and her work has been shared at high-profile conferences and forums both at home and abroad.’

With Ms Bates awareness program each newly arrived inmate is screened for autism traits and a ‘formal training pathway’ is created as needed for prisoners who show evidence of autistic traits.

Serco’s contact director at HMP Dovegate, John Hewitson, said: ‘With the increased knowledge and skills that the staff at HMP Dovegate now have, ASD offenders are not penalised for their condition and staff know when they can ask for further help and guidance. We are all very proud of Yvette and her dedication and commitment has resulted in the prison making huge progress in understanding and helping prisoners on the autistic spectrum.’

 Simon Shepherd, director of the Butler Trust, spoke about the purpose of the Butler Trust Awards, saying: “In her annual Christmas Day address, the Queen spoke about the cumulative impact of ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’. That’s exactly what the Butler Trust Awards are for and they are an important reminder that behind the negative headlines are some remarkable people doing an exceptional job, every day, on behalf of the people in their charge and the public they serve.”

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