Prisons in Parliament is back…

…With someone new in the dispatch box: ‘How will she succeed where her predecessors have failed?’

liz truss female lord high chancellor

Liz Truss: First female Lord High Chancellor. Image: Number 10

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. 

Prison safety

Bridget Phillipson asked what recent assessment has been made of safety in prisons and called on the new justice secretary to prioritise the issue of staff retention. Asking, “How she will succeed where her predecessors have failed?”

Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Justice, acknowledged the importance of creating a safe space for both staff and inmates but was unable, as yet, to outline specific plans to address the issue.

“We cannot have reform in our prisons if we do not have safe prisons for people to work in. Those two things go hand in hand. I am committed to an agenda of making our prisons safe and places of reform… over the coming months, I will be laying out more detailed plans.”

In context:

  • Since December 2012 serious assaults, including serious prisoner on prisoner assaults and serious assaults on staff have more than doubled.
  • The number of deaths in custody has almost doubled since 2007 and self-harm incidents and assault incidents have increased by a third.
  • In 2015 the likelihood of prison mortality was 45 per cent greater than in the general population.


Drugs in prisons

Caroline Flint asked, what steps are being taking to tackle access to and use of psychoactive substances in prisons.

Sam Gyimah, Under-Secretary of State for Justice, outlined the measures in place but did not volunteer information on how effective they have been:

  • New laws which will see those who smuggle packages over prison walls face up to two years in prison.
  • Those involved in drug distribution of drugs in prison could face prosecution and extra time behind bars.
  • Security measures and searching techniques in place to detect drugs, and to prevent smuggling into prisons.


Plans for new prisons

Peter Bone asked what plans there are to open new prisons.

Gyimah said HM Prison Berwyn, a 2,106 place prison in Wrexham will open in 2017.


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