Prisons in the press – 8 May

Important prison news you may have missed during the election

Hound of Hounslow

Hound of Hounslow: cunning City fraudster doesn’t exactly spring to mind… (Source: Justin Beckley )

Prisons in the press brings you the best articles from the past week to keep you up-to-date on prison news.

Because the media has been awash with the election, it’s possible the prison news has been completely buried. To compensate, this week we’ve added a bit more background info to each story, so you get the full picture.

Prisoner arrested on suspicion of murdering a fellow inmate in Wandsworth prison

The victim, aged in his 60s, was found dead in his cell on Monday morning, the Evening Standard reported.

Analysis

Homicides in custody are relatively rare. Since March 2006, there have been between 1 – 4 homicides in custody per year. But the death draws attention to the question of safety of those in custody, as deaths have increased dramatically since 2009.

Deaths in custody, Ministry of Justice

In the 12 months to March 2015 there were 239 deaths in prison custody – an increase of 14 compared to the 12 months ending March 2014.

These deaths comprised:

  • 76 apparent self-inflicted deaths, down from 88 on the same period in 2014
  • 144 deaths due to natural causes, up from 130 on the same period in 2014
  • 4 apparent homicides, up from 3 on the same period in 2014
  • 15 other deaths, 11 of which are yet to be classified.

There is more Ministry of Justice data on deaths in custody here.

Stab vests for prison officers in Northern Ireland

Prison officers escorting high-risk prisoners are to be issued with anti-stab vests, batons and incapacitant spray, justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has said. Two wardens were injured last month when an inmate fled during a visit to hospital. The Belfast Telegraph has more.

Analysis

Attacks on staff in Northern Ireland have increased in all three prisons recently. In October 2014, in Maghaberry prison assaults on prison officers had increased by 46·1% compared to the same time in 2013. In Magilligan, they are were up 100%, and assaults in Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre had risen by 130%.

Hound of Hounslow held on remand in HMP Wandsworth

Navinder Sarao is being held in Wandsworth prison having failed to put up the £5 million bail. US authorites claim the so-called Hound of Hounslow‘s stock market manipulation cost the American market billions of dollars.

Reports say assets have been frozen which has prevented him from meeting the bail terms.

According to City AM his extradition hearing is not until September.  writes:

“That’s a long time to spend in Wandsworth prison, or any prison for that matter, before being given the chance to argue one’s innocence in a court of law, albeit a US one if his hearing fails.”

Analysis

The prison population has doubled in the last 20 years, which is widely accepted to have led to dangerous overcrowding in many institutions. Given the high demand for places in prisons, this long term remand will raise questions about detaining suspects in custody who have not been convicted.

Did you know that remand prisoners have the right to vote? More facts and stats on remand from the Prison Reform Trust.

Experts warn of “sweeping” claims about crime in election manifestos

A group of criminologists published a report for Sense about Science warning voters not to trust claims made by five of the biggest parties:

“They wrongly assume crime is a single phenomenon to be addressed by headline-grabbing measures, and ignore evidence on what works and what doesn’t in reducing different types of crime.”

Analysis

Well, you didn’t think we’d get through this whole post without mentioning the election did you?

The parties have quite different approaches to crime – as the report explains. The report encourages citizens and voters to ask for the evidence behind the policies.

How do we know more bobbys on the beat will reduce crime? What if the answer to reducing crime lay outside of the criminal justice system?

It’s great to see experts encouraging us how to hold policy-makers, and policies to account.

That’s Prison Watch UK keeping you informed and up to date every single week. Got a story? Email us at ukprisonwatch at gmail dot com

TWITTER: @prisonwatchuk
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/PrisonWatchUK

One Comment on “Prisons in the press – 8 May”


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