Prisons in the press – 15 April

Dickensian squalor at Wormwood Scrubs and the inmate who tried to give the law the slip

... Image: The Style PA

An inmate put up one slippery fight against being moved. Image: The Style PA

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

Damning report of HMP Wormwood Scrubs was toned down, leaked documents reveal. The Guardian reports that the foreword by ex-prisons inspector Nick Hardwick was tougher than final version by new inspector Peter Clarke. Read the story here


Revealed this week

  1. Women given tents instead of accommodation when leaving London prison. Women leaving HMP Bronzefield were given tents and sleeping bags because of a shortage of available housing. The Independent has more.
  2. Plans revealed to convert Somerset jail into flats. Parts of historic Shepton Mallet site, which closed in 2013, will be converted into approximately 146 homes. ITV has more.
  3. Religious leaders slam Wrexham prison over ‘non-Welsh speaking’ chaplain plans. Baptist Union and Presbyterian Church of Wales object to plans not to make ability to speak Welsh a must for new post. The Daily Post has the story.
  4. Major security alert after drone is spotted flying over Strangeways prison. A prison officer at the high-security HMP Manchester spotted the flying device earlier this month. The Manchester Evening News has more.
  5. New jail threatens to “destroy” Highland community, says prominent SNP politician. Local Highland SNP councillor Ken Gowans has spoken out about the lack of public consultation on the choice of Inverness suburb Milton of Leys for the development of a new jail. The Press and Journal has the story.


News from down under

  1. Radicalised teenager “carves Isis slogan onto cellmate’s head” in Australian prison. The 18-year-old reportedly used a razor to carve ‘e4e’ which stands for “eye for an eye”. The Independent has more.
  2. Video footage shows “vicious bashing” in Goulburn, New South Wales, main maximum security jail. One time gangster Rodney Atkinson stomped and kicked ‘granny killer’ Tony Halloun because he was a “scumbag”. MailOnline has the story.


News in context: HMP Wormwood Scrubs

The BBC reports that the latest inspection by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found Wormwood Scrubs prison to be rat-infested and overcrowded, with some prisoners too frightened to leave their cells.

Inspectors found safety at the prison had deteriorated since previous probe raised serious concerns and the Prison Reform Trust said the jail had “levels of Dickensian squalor“.


Wormwood Scrubs, Source: Wikipedia

Wormwood Scrubs, Source: Wikipedia


But The Guardian revealed that the critical inspection report “appears to have been toned down before publication”.

The report published on Tuesday includes a foreword by the new chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, highlighting the poor condition of the prison. But an earlier draft leaked to the Guardian was written by the previous chief inspector, Nick Hardwick, and contained much stronger language.

The Guardian highlights that Nick Hardwick’s announcement that the prison remained in a “shameful condition” had been watered down to in a “poor condition” in Clarke’s version.

And added that the published version omitted finding that one in ten prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs said they had been physically assaulted and that “too many prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm were held in the segregation unit without any explanation of the exceptional reasons required to justify it.”

The Guardian has the full story.


In other news 

A convicted murderer covered himself in baby oil to dodge prison officers. Adam Gallagher stripped to his boxer shorts and doused himself in oil so he was too slippery for security staff to get hold of as they tried to move him from HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow. The BBC has more.

When a life sentence means life twice over: The world’s longest prison sentences. The Independent has compiled a list of the longest prison sentences served across the globe, including the woman who was ordered to spend 141,078 years in jail. Read the story here.


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