Prisons in the press – 20 November

Cats sent to prison and an inmate takes to the roof

An animal rescue charity has enlisted the help of prisoners. Image:

An animal rescue charity has enlisted the help of prisoners. Image: Etienne Tremblay

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

Prison inspector welcomes improved restraint systems after the deaths of two childrenNick Hardwick said the newly introduced system was a positive step forward but warned “it is not yet being consistently implemented or achieving the intended outcomes.” The Guardian has the full story.

In context

The system known as  “minimising and managing physical restraint” (MMPR) was introduced following the deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood in 2004 (Gareth fell unconscious while being restrained and Adam hanged himself after a “pain compliance” technique was applied to him).

MMPR was created as a new way to manage behaviour in young offender institutions (YOIs) and secure training centres (STCs). The new techniques place an  emphasis on the importance of staff using their existing relationships with children to de-escalate volatile incidents and minimise the number of children who experience restraint.

HM Inspectorate of prisons

To read the full report, click here.

Though Nick Hardwick welcomed “the significant improvements MMPR has brought to the national oversight of restraint” inspectors found that many children could not spot any difference between their experience of MMPR and previous behaviour management systems.

To find out what it’s like to be a child in prison in England and Wales, click here.


Revealed this week 

  1. An inmate “threw tiles at officers” in a rooftop protest. The prisoner at HMP Birmingham armed himself with metal rods ripped from the roof and spent six hours smashing windows and skylights and throwing tiles and debris at prison staff. The Birmingham Mail has the story.
  2. Prison officer jailed over smuggling plot at Wolverhampton prison. The Express & Star reports that  former Royal Marine Matthew Taylor was to be “paid handsomely” to deliver a package of steroids to HMP Oakwood, but the plan never materialised. Read more here.
  3. Drones have been seized eight times this year after being used to smuggle contraband goods, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed. The Mirror reports that the first official confirmation is set to spark fears on increased quantities of mobile phones, drugs and even firearms being dropped into jails.
  4. Prison teacher at Northern Ireland’s maximum security jail suspended for sending a birthday card to a convicted murderer. The teacher was suspended the same day a report branded Maghaberry prison “unsafe and unstable”. Belfast Live has more.
  5. A transgender woman has been found dead in an all-male prison in Leeds. Vicky Thompson, 21, was found unresponsive in HMP Leeds in Armley, West Yorkshire, last Friday. The Independent has the story.


In comment this week

How Britain created an insane prison system. Carl Cattermole, author of HM Prison Service: A Survival Guide says the prison system actively encourages drug use and destroys any chance of rehabilitation. Read the full interview here.


In other news  

Across the pond female prisoners are given cats to care for behind bars. The “Pawsitive Prison Program” – created by an animal rescue charity, based in Mason County, Washington – is training inmates to look after stray cats which they’ll be fostering in their prison dorms. The Telegraph has the full story.

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