Prisons in the press – 5 February

Plans for prisoners to be allowed to smoke in their cells and a Duchess behind bars 

... Image: Shaun Amey

The Duchess of Cornwall visited Brixton prison. Image: Shaun Amey


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

Deaths and self harm in prison rise sharply. The number of self-harm incidents, assaults on inmates and deaths in prison all rose sharply this year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, reports the Guardian.


Revealed this week

  1. Chris Grayling tried to interfere with prisons report, says chief inspector. The Guardian reports that outgoing Nick Hardwick accused the former justice secretary of attempting to remove criticisms of government policies from an independent report before its publication. Read more here.
  2. Police brutality victim dies in Holloway prison. An investigation has been launched into the death of Sarah Reed who had previously been the victim of police brutality. The BBC has the story 
  3. Prisoner officer suspended from Maghaberry prison following an argument with prisoner. The officer, who claimed that scalding water was thrown over her during a row with a prisoner, has been suspended after other prison officers questioned her account of the incident. The BBC has more.
  4. HMP Hewell named worst prison for suicide rate in the West Midlands. Figures recorded nine people taking their own lives behind bars in the region. Across England and Wales, death by suicide have risen by 46 per cent. The Bromsgrove Advertiser has the story.
  5. 2,000 applications for 80 Wrexham prison officer jobs. Around 25 people have applied for every post at the £212m super-jail which is due to open in February 2017. The Daily Post has more.
  6. World prison population tops ten million after surge in female inmates. The Independent reports that the total could top 11 million if unknown numbers held in Chinese and North Korean detention centres were included. Read the full story here.


Inside prisons this week  

  1. Prison is as bad as you imagine, says Nick Hardwick. The outgoing chief inspector of prisons says conditions in adult prisons had deteriorated over the past five years. The Guardian has more 
  2. Inside the home of Scotland’s most notorious criminals. The BBC says HMP Dumfries is the safest prison in Scotland following a glowing report. Read more here.
  3. Welsh prison inmates to be allowed to smoke in cells. Despite being illegal in wales since 2007, a number of court rulings have allowed inmates to smoke in their cells and there are plans to extend this to designated rooms in April 2017. The South Wales Argus has the story 
  4. Inmates at smoke free prison to be given gum and nicotine patches. Wrexham super prison inmates could be given no-smoking aids at a cost of over £12,000 a week to the North Wales health service. The Daily Post has more.


News is context: Death and self harm in prison rise 

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that in the 12 months to December 2015 there were a total of 257 prisoner deaths compared with 153 in 2006.

Part of the rise is due to an increase in both suicides and killings behind bars – 89 of the deaths in 2015 were self-inflicted.

A significant proportion of prison fatalities, however, were deaths due to natural causes among an ageing prison population – 146 compared to just 83 in 2006.


The Ministry of Justice figures reveal suicide and self-harm is rising in UK prisons.

The Ministry of Justice figures reveal suicide and self-harm is rising in UK prisons.


Assaults in prison jumped by from 15,886 in 2014 to 18,874 by September 2015. With 4,568 assaults on prison staff, soaring up from 3,503 om the same period of 2014.

Worryingly, since 2012 the number of serious assaults in total and serious assaults on staff have doubled.

Further analysis by the Guardian is available here, or read the full report here.


In other news 

The Duchess of Cornwall behind bars… to support a prisoner rehabilitation scheme. Camilla, who is patron of the National Literacy Trust wanted to highlight a reading programme helping adult inmates and young offenders turn their lives around by improving their literacy skills. The Express has more.

Strangeways prisoner found with four mobile phones, four charges and four SIM cards up his backside. Convicted robber Steven Wallace handed over two phones after being caught by security scanner – but then told guards that there was more to come! The Mirror has the story.


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One Comment on “Prisons in the press – 5 February”

  1. […] against female incarceration are tonight to stage a demonstration outside Holloway Prison, where Sarah Reed died in January this […]


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