Prisons in the press – 24 March

Prison attacks filmed on mobile phones and escape tools delivered by drone

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Drones attempted to drop bolt cutters to would-be escapees. Image: Leo Reynolds


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

Assaults on Northern Ireland prison officers are “commonplace”. Almost 300 assaults on prison officers have been reported in Northern Ireland’s jails in the past three years, the Department of Justice has revealed. The News Letter has more.


Revealed this week

  1. Prison lesbian couple lose court appeal over “separate cells sex ban”. Civil partners Michelle and Stephanie Hopkins complained their human rights were violated because they were not allowed to sleep together. Get Surrey has the story.
  2. Ghost prisons cost taxpayers payers £273,000. HMP Reading has been empty since 2013 but its utilities have still been running. The Mirror has more.
  3. Cannabis, a knife and syringes seized from prisoners at HMP Liverpool. The increasingly popular legal high Spice was also among contraband taken off prisoners in 2015. The Echo has the story.
  4. Attack on Brixton prison inmate filmed on mobile phone investigated by prison services. The footage is believed the have been filmed earlier this month. The Evening Standard has more.
  5. Three inmates taken to hospital after incidents at Young Offenders Institution. Three “isolated” incidents at Stoke Heath YOI led to the “precautionary treatment” of three prisoners. The Shropshire Star has the story.


News from across the pond

Germany is “running out of prison space”. As a result of the refugee crisis Germany’s prisons are at breaking point, claims head of jail workers’ union.

30,000 migrants are being held on remand because they were deemed a flight risk. MailOnline reports that while foreigners make up nine per cent of the German population, they make up 30 percent of German prison population. Read more here.

Whilst in the Netherlands, there aren’t enough criminals to fill its prisons. As crime is expected to drop so jails are expected to be left empty.

Figures from the Dutch ministry of justice released on Monday suggest overall crime will drop by 0.9 per cent a year in the next five years. And since a third of its 13,500 prison cells are unfilled, this means five prisons will definitely close. Read more from the Telegraph.


News in context: Assaults on prison staff

Around two thirds of the 300 assaults on prison officers in Northern Ireland occurred at the high security Maghaberry prison, which houses dissident republicans.

Department of Justice figures were released as a pathologist prepared to carry out a second post mortem on prison officer Adrian Ismay who died after being targeted on his way to work.

Hundreds of mourners gathered for Mr Ismay’s funeral on Tuesday.


Source: Usuf Islam/Flickr

Almost 300 assaults have occurred in 3 years at Northern Ireland prisons Source: Usuf Islam/Flickr

The figures were released in answer to TUV leader Jim Allister who said:

“We’ve all seen the price paid outside the prison with the savage murder of officer Ismay, but clearly, within the prisons assaults are common place.

“All of which speaks to the aggressive environment in which our brave prison officers are called to serve.”

Following the death of Mr Ismay, First Minister Arlene Foster said she was sickened to hear that republican inmates had taunted prison officers and celebrated Mr Ismay’s murder. She added:

“Northern Ireland has come a long way in recent years. We can’t allow a small group of dissident republicans to drag Northern Ireland backwards.”

The Newsletter has the full story.


In other news 

Smirking jailbird drug dealer broadcasts “live show” from prison cell. Gold toothed Cleon Davis boasts of his “easy life” behind bars and films pranks on fellow inmates. The Mirror has more.

Prison escape bid using bolt cutters flown in by drone. Guards at HMP Featherstone spotted the aircraft which also had phones and drugs, foiling the escape plot. The Birmingham Mail has the story.


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