Prisons in the press – 6 November

Sex in showers and smuggling McMuffins  

Smuggled along with ... Image: Roey Ahram

Smuggled along with a Kinder Surprise egg, alcohol and drugs. Image: Roey Ahram

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

Prisoners assaulted staff at Midlands jails nearly 300 times in a year. Government figures revealed that during 2014, a total of 294 assaults on workers at Featherstone, Oakwood, Stafford, Birmingham, Brinsford, Swinfen Hall and Stoke Heath prisons were recorded. The Express and Star has more.

In context

Nationally the number of assaults has risen by 11 per cent from 3,266 to 3,637.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show that the ten prisons with the highest number of assaults on staff in 2014 were:

  1. Altcourse – 150 
  2. Feltham – 138 
  3. Pentoville – 137 
  4. Thameside – 99
  5. Birmingham – 89
  6. Doncaster – 81
  7. Brinsford – 69
  8. Woodhill – 69
  9. Wormwood Scrubs – 69
  10. Peterborough – 68

The prison with the biggest increase in assaults was HMP Altcourse, jumping from 78 to 150 assaults in a year. Whilst the prison with the greatest fall in the number of assaults was Wolverhampton’s HMP Oakwood, which fell from 137 to 63 assaults, the bosses of which say they targeted the issue after the prison was beset with various problems, including a  nine hour stand-off with guards.

To find out more about assaults on prison staff and the other problems plaguing UK prisons, read our summary of Chief Inspector Nick Harding’s annual report, here. And read The Guardian’s Eric Allison‘s opinion of the problems, here.


Revealed this week 

  1. Maghaberry Prison is “unsafe and unstable for prisoners and staff” and someone could be killed if problems are not addressed, a report has found. Inspectors warn of “significant failures in local leadership” at Northern Ireland’s high security prison. Belfast Live has the full story.
  2. Jersey inmates could be locked up for longer to save money. As a result of budget cuts at HMP La Moye staff also face the prospect of job cuts. ITV News has more.
  3. Rat infestation discovered at Winchester prison. A report by the Independent Monitoring Board found that large amounts of rubbish had been thrown out of cell windows at HMP Winchester leading to the infestation. The BBC has the story.
  4. Inmate found dead in Cardiff prison cell. Mohamoud Ali, who was serving immigration detention and suffered from epilepsy, was discovered “unresponsive” in his cell at Parc Prison in Bridgend. WalesOnline has the full story. To read more about immigration detention, click here.


A bad week for prison officers 

  1. Prison officers admit they don’t know what to do with prison gangs. The Prison Culture Report noted Ireland does not have a clear operational strategy for dealing with criminal gangs in prison. Read more here.
  2. Ex prisoner claims prison officers wearing balaclavas beat him in his cell. Other former prisoners have made a series of allegations about conditions at HMP Liverpool in Walton, but the prison service said it had no record of the complaints. The Mirror has the story.
  3. Prison officers to face disciplinary action after allowing an inmate to have “birthday sex” with girlfriend in the showers at Broomfield Hospital, Essex. The Essex Chronicle has more.


In other news  

A man has been caught attempting to smuggle contraband into HMP Wormwood Scrubs using a fishing line over the prison’s wall. The Independent reports that Karl Jensen was this week sentenced for trying to smuggle drugs, alcohol, a knife, a mobile phone as well as a McMuffin, and a Kinder Surprise egg. To read more and watch the CCTV footage, click here.



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