Prisons in the press – 11 March

Soaring prison populations and the inmate who goes to jail to de-stress

... Image: Amanda Tipton

Some time behind bars is just what the doctor ordered… Image: Amanda Tipton


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 smoking ban overturned by Court of Appeal allowing the Ministry of Justice to introduce its own voluntary, phased controls. The Guardian reports that government lawyers had argued a compulsory ban could cause discipline problems and risk staff and prisoner safety. Read more here.


Revealed this week

  1. Calls to protect UK prison staff following last week’s ‘dissident attack’. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the attack which saw a prison guard seriously injured when a bomb partially exploded under his van highlights the dangers prison officers live and work under. Read more here.
  2. Inmates at Doncaster prison too terrified to leave prison cells. In a scathing report Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons said HMP Doncatser, run by outsourcing giant Serco, was “a very poor prison” where drugs were widely available and violence was on the rise. The Mirror has the story.
  3. Prison inmates need for drink and drug help is ‘overwhelming’, says governor of HMP Lincoln. Peter Wright said there was a difficulty in treating some addicts at the prison as they only spend a brief time there. The Lincolnshire Echo has more.
  4. Scottish prison scheme cuts reoffending rate. An independent report found that fewer than 17% of those who had been through the scheme at Low Moss Prison in Dunbartonshire returned to prison. The BBC has the story.
  5. Man got himself arrested to smuggle drugs and phones into prison. John Macleod smashed a charity shop window to get himself arrested knowing he’d be sent straight back inside. The North Devon Journal has more.


Prison population numbers 

  1. The UK has highest prison population in European Union. There were a total of 95,248 people behind bars in this country, figures published by the Council of Europe show. Only Russia and Turkey had more inmates, with 671,027 and 151,451 respectively. The Evening Standard has the story.
  2. Scotland has highest prison population in EU. The study by the Council of Europe found there are around 148 people in jail per 100,000 population in Scotland, compared with the European average of 136. The Scotsman has more.
  3. Northern Ireland prison population lowest in UK, but number of lifers second highest in Europe. The report revealed 12% of Northern Ireland prisoners are serving life sentences, only Scotland records a higher figure at 16.2%. The Belfast Telegraph has the story.


News in context: Smoking ban in prisons 

Government lawyers had warned at a recent hearing that a “particularly vigorous” ban on smoking in state prisons could cause discipline problems and risk the safety of staff and inmates. The cautious approach to implementation follows warnings from prison governors that it risks increasing instability in jails.

The latest ruling by three court of appeal judges concludes that the ban on smoking in public places does not apply to state prisons and other crown premises in England and Wales.


... Source: Carsten ten Brink Flickr

Government lawyers had argued that a compulsory ban could cause discipline problems. Source: Carsten ten Brink Flickr


Bans affecting three jails in Wales came into effect in January. The MoJ said it still intended to impose restrictions on tobacco but would have greater freedom in implementing its policy.

More than four in five prisoners smoke and, while a ban on smoking in communal areas has been in force for some time, inmates have been allowed to smoke in their cells. The Guardian has the full story.


In other news 

Serial offender says he uses prison to “de-stress” and claims a jail term fast tracks his access to benefits. Sean Johnstone has over 64 convictions, and suffers from mental health problems. He tells the Daily Record that prison is a “reset button” that gives him speedy access to social security. Read more here.

..nside the world’s toughest prison .

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