Prisons in the press – 25 September

Deaths, protests and illegal sound recordings

A ground breaking prosecution for musical inmates this week. Image: Global Panorama

A ground breaking prosecution for musical inmates this week. Image: Global Panorama

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

Hot off the press

Lincoln prison named as tenth most overcrowded jail in country. A report released this week by the Ministry of Justice revealed that HMP Lincoln currently holds 608 inmates but is only supposed to house 403.  

Director of the Howard League Andrew Wilson spoke to BBC Lincoln and said:

“Yes they could squeeze more sardines into the can but the prison is already holding more people than it is meant to hold.”

The Lincoln Echo has the story.

In context

The monthly report released by the Ministry of Justice records the number of current inmates in UK prisons as well as the number of prisoners each institution is build to accommodate – known as the Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA).

Using this report the Ministry of Justice is able to calculate the rate of overcrowding (% of CNA) by dividing the prison population by the CNA.

The results for August 2015 is as follows:

Rank Prison Population CNA % of CNA
1 Kennet 313 175 179%
2 Leeds 1,163 669 174%
3 Swansea 413 242 171%
4 Exeter 531 318 167%
5 Wandsworth 1,560 943 165%
6 Preston 696 434 160%
7 Durham 939 595 158%
8 Leicester 335 214 157%
9 Brixton 810 528 153%
10 Lincoln 608 403 151%

The monthly reports on prison populations are available here.

For more information on overcrowding and what the government is doing about it, click here.


Revealed this week 

  1. Young offenders institute is a hot bed of violence where guards are assaulting the inmates and prisoners are fighting back with sharpened cutlery. The BBC reports that prison inspectors have expressed concerns about increased levels of serious violence at Cookham Wood prison in Rochester, Kent, directed at staff and inmates. Read more here.
  2. Four deaths in two months leave prison facing a lack of leadership. An insider has said that morale is at an all time low at Winchester Prison following the death of four inmates this year. The Daily Echo reports the deaths come after the Independent Monitoring Board raised fears about an atmosphere of gang culture and increased boredom on some wings at the jail.
  3. Scottish prison staff cost soars by £13m in a year. Figures from the Scottish Prison Service’s annual accounts show the amount spent on staff rose from £150m to £163m during the past financial year amid claims that consultants are being paid to do the work of existing employees. The Scotsman has the story.


Protested this week  

  1. Inmates at Cumbria prison stage 8 hour protest. Negotiators were called to HMP Haverigg on after 20 inmates took part in a “peaceful protest”. The North-West Evening Mail has more 
  2. Prison officers’ union blames cuts for disturbances among inmates. The Guardian’s Eric Allison reports that the Prison Officers Association say staffing cuts are to blame for a hostage situation at Whitemoor Prison and inmates barricading Garth, in Lancashire, two weeks ago. The Guardian has the story. To read more from Eric Allison for Prison Watch here.


In other news 

Do you remember the musical maestros who featured in 21st August’s Prisons in the Press, who recorded a rap song behind bars? This week they were charged with an offence of making a sound recording, in what is believed to be the first prosecution of it’s kindThe Guardian has more.


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