Prisons in the press – 13 November

Drug smuggling mice and the end of the Victorian prison

What's the difference between a drone and a mouse? Image: Kordite

What’s the difference between a drone and a mouse? Image: Kordite

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

Nine new super-prisons set to open as a number of Victorian jails are sold off to developers. The Guardian reports that the UK Government intends to sell off its “bloodstained Victorian prisons to swanky hotel developers” and are set to build new ones that are “just as grim and oppressive as the old ones.” Read the full story here.

In context

As part of major prison reforms Chancellor George Osborne and Justice Secretary Michael Gove have announced that the Government will close the prisons that are “relics from the Victorian times on prime real estate in our inner cities.”

As well as closing a number Victorian jails, the Government intends to build nine new super-prisons (five of them by 2020) in an effort to ensure that Britain’s prison system is “fit for purpose in the 21st century“.

It is estimated that around 10,000 prison places will move from outdated sites to the new super-prisons, in the hopes to significantly improve rehabilitation and save around £80m per year due to the reduced costs of modern facilities.

The Panopticon, a staple design of the Victorian prison, designed originally by Jeremy Bentham. Image:

The Panopticon, a staple design of the Victorian prison, designed originally by Jeremy Bentham. Image: Paolo Trabattoni

But which Victorian prisons are for the chop? Click here to view our list of jails we think it could be.

What will the repercussions be on towns that are set to lose a building that has dominated the local community for over a century? The BBC investigates.


Revealed this week 

  1. Drone carrying drugs found in the grounds of HMP Manchester. The BBC reports that guards at the high security prison intercepted the drone which is believed to have been carrying mobile phones, SIM cards and drugs. Read the full story here.
  2. Prisoners are being fed for £2 per day at Welsh jails. The average cost of three meals a day plus beverages at HMP Cardiff, HMP Usk/Prescoed is £1.97 per prisoners. WalesOnline has more.
  3. Legal highs sent inmates at Winchester Prison “pyschotic”, warns ex-criminal. Daniel Brown said the devastating substances were “everywhere” during his two-month jail sentence. Click here to read the full story.
  4. Governor of Northern Ireland’s high security Maghaberry prison says he is confident he can address the serious safety concerns over the prison, as it was last week reported to be the “most dangerous in Europe” (we brought you the details in last week’s Prisons in the Press). The BBC has the story.


Protested this week

  1. Staff from Shropshire’s only prison joined protests across the country in a strike against pay freezes. Education staff at HMP Stoke Heath were striking in a row over pay complaining that “in the last 12 months education staff have seen cuts in hours and staff”. The Shropshire Star has the story.
  2. The site of Wrexham’s new £212m super-prison has been a hotbed of unrest as the recruitment drive for prison officers begins (the BBC has more here). A female protester chained herself by the neck to the gates of the site as part of a protest believed to have been organised by Community Action on Prison Expansion and Prison Abolition UK (read more on that here). While the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb has hit back at protesters telling them to “look again at the vision behind the prison,” the Daily Post has more.


In other news  

Why use drones when prisoners have mice? Inmates in a Brazilian jail are using a mouse to courier drugs. The animal was spotted scurrying along the corridor with tiny bags of drugs tied to its tail, running between the cells. The Telegraph has the full story.

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