Prisons in ParliamentPosted: May 16, 2016
Wormwood walk out typical of the dangers and problems across the prison estate says Minister
Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.
Hospitalised after being assaulted – the experience of two prison officers whilst on duty at Wormwood Scrubs prison last week.
Andrew Slaughter says it is not unique. “What happened at Wormwood Scrubs is not an isolated incident; it is typical of the dangers and problems across the prison and youth estate.”
Indeed, the latest prison reports paint a bleak picture. Levels of violence and use of force at HMP Lewes were found to be high and oversight of both, poor. At Leeds, violence at the prison was found to be double what is typically seen in local prisons. And at Glen Parva, Leicester, inspectors reported the amount of violence in the prison to be “both high and increasing”.
What does the Government have to say about violence in prisons?
Violence was top of the agenda in Parliament last week. Andrew Selous made a statement on safety in custody.
“Reducing the harm that prisoners may cause to themselves or to others is the Government’s top priority in prisons” he said.
Prison Watch UK notes that Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice, was not not present in Parliament to discuss the Government’s “top priority”…
More prison staff needed
Andrew Selous explained that increasing prison staff would help decrease levels of violence. “We have recruited 2,830 prison officers since January 2015; that is a net increase of 530.”
However, if we look a little further back, the number of prison staff has actually fallen. “In the first five years of this Government, the number of prison officers fell by 41 per cent. In the sixth year of this Government, assaults on prison officers rose by the same percentage—41 per cent” said David Hanson.
Experienced inmates and inexperienced staff
So what’s the answer to violence in our prisons? Is a recruitment drive enough? Jenny Chapman says it is a issue not just about numbers but about the experience of staff.
“It is a problem of this Government’s making, when they let far too many officers go in the first half of the last Parliament… We now have experienced inmates and inexperienced staff… If he carries on as he is now, these problems will never be resolved on his watch.”