Prisons in the press – 10 June

 Rising levels of violence behind bars and Scotland’s toughest jail to become a museum 

The Panopticon, a staple design of the Victorian prison, designed originally by Jeremy Bentham. Image:

Scotland’s “Alcatraz” to become a museum

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Prisons in the press brings you the best articles from the past week to keep you up-to-date on prison news.

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Hot off the press

Stress-related illness among prison workers at highest level in five years. New figures reveal prison staff in England and Wales took 54,519 days off due to stress in 2014-15. BT News has more.

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Revealed this week

  1. Violence and drugs are rife at Wales’ biggest prison, warn inspectors. The juvenile and adult units at Bridgend’s Parc Prison have both come in for criticism. Nearly one in four boys at Parc Prison report being attacked by other boys. WalesOnline has the story.
  2. Anger after another transgender woman sent to men’s prison, despite government promises. News comes after two transgender women found hanged within weeks of each other in all-male prison. The Independent has more.
  3. Prison monitoring board chairman suspended after speaking out to local newspaper about ‘bullying’. Faith Spear claims she was being “bullied” into standing down from her post on Hollesley Bay Prison’s Independent Monitoring Board. The Press Gazette has the story.
  4. Five more arrests and another critical inspection on report for G4S child prisons. Kent police investigating alleged abuse at Medway child prison, run by G4S, made five more arrests that same day a report by prison inspectors revealed a child had been strip searched while under restraint. Open Democracy has more.
  5. Misuse of substances is key concern at Northumberland prison. As well as the rise in substance misuse, the number of self-harm and violent incidents also rose last year – a new report states. The Northumberland Gazette has the story.
  6. Increased tagging of Scottish offenders to reduce prison numbers. Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson aims to cut Scotland’s prison population through the increased use of electronic monitoring. Scottish Legal has the story.

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News in context: Stress-related illness for prison workers

Prison staff in England and Wales took off 54,519 days due to stress in 2014-15 – up from 53,290 the year before and 46,886 in 2012-13, figures obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws show.

Frances Crook, chief executive of The Howard League for Penal Reform, said the figures were just “the tip of the iceberg” and warned that the service is in crisis.

Between 2010 and 2011, 51,649 days were taken off due to stress by prison workers and in 2011-12, 50,051 were lost.

Frances Crook

Chief Executive for the Howard League of Penal Reform Frances Crook

Ms Crook said many employees were “reticent” to report stress-related illness and warned that rates could be much higher.

She said she had never seen jails “in such a bad state” and pointed to high suicide rates among prisoners – with around one inmate taking their own life every four days – as a source of trauma for workers.

“If you are a prison officer and you have to cut someone down who is hanging – imagine how stressful that is,” she said.

The Oxford Mail has the full story.

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In other news 

Scotland’s toughest prison, is to re-open as a museum. The notorious HMP Peterhead has re-opened its doors as a museum, and was once home to some of Scotland’s worst criminals. The Daily Record has the story.

Judge apologises for sending man to prison for two years by mistake. Rikki Carter’s mum Maria contemplating “putting a claim in” over the legal gaffe – which she said has even stressed her pet Shih Tzu dog. The Mirror has more.

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