Prisons in the press – 14 October

GPS tagging, dementia classes and drug use behind bars caught on camera

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Footage believed to have been shot on a mobile shows naked prisoners “high on spice”. Source: Wikimedia Commons


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

Offenders could have their sweat tested for alcohol or have their movements tracked using GPS tagging under community sentencing plans announced by the Scottish government. The new tag technology is part of the government’s development of community interventions helping re-conviction rates to 17-year low. The Guardian has more.


Revealed this week

  1. Shocking prison footage shows naked prisoners “high on spice” pretending to be fight dogs. The Mirror reports that a series of clips, mostly taken at Salford’s Forest Bank Prison, suggest drugs and mobile phones are used freely behind bars. The Mirror has the full story.
  2. Prison inquiry demanded by the Prison Governors Association after an “unprecedented” rise in violence. The association’s members voted unanimously for a public inquiry at the body’s annual conference in Derby. The BBC has more.
  3. Killer driver used phone in Doncaster prison to post pictures of himself to Facebook that were then shared with his victims’ families. During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court, James Maughan pleaded guilty to a string of charges relating to the use of a mobile phone in prison. The Star has the story.
  4. Europe’s jails are “breeding grounds” for jihadists because ISIS see criminals as ideal recruits, claims MailOnline. The emergence of Islamic State has strengthened the link between crime and terrorism, according to research conducted by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. MailOnline has more.
  5. Northumberland MP demands answers over Sodexo running of prisons. Insiders at prison managed by Sodexo claim staff have “lost control” and guards are too scared to go to work. Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said he is concerned about the welfare of staff at five jails run by Sodexo Justice Service, including HMP Northumberland. Chronicle Live has more.


The prisons that hit the headlines   

  1. HMP Shotts in Lanarkshire to become Scotland’s first dementia-friendly prison. Alzheimer Scotland has been working with staff and prisoners at HMP Shotts to stage Dementia Friends workshops and information sessions with staff to support the ageing prison population. The Scotsman has the story.
  2. Prison spends thousands every year hiring taxis to take inmates to hospital – even though it is only on the other side of the road. HMP Winchester, in Hampshire, ferries its convicts just 150 yards but the Prison Service has defended the service as the cheapest option. MailOnline has more.
  3. Major redevelopment at Magilligan prison delayed until 2026 and will cost the taxpayer an extra £10m. Ireland’s Justice Minister Claire Sugden confirmed due to “construction and capital cost inflation” the bill for the major works at the north’s second biggest prison has risen to £162.3m in less than two years. The Irish News has the story. .


In context

Offenders could have their sweat tested for alcohol or have their movements tracked using GPS tagging under community sentencing plans announced by the Scottish government.

The roll-out of new tagging technology, including transdermal alcohol monitoring, which tests the amount of ethanol in sweat, was one of the recommendations of a working group of experts which the Scottish government will now implement.

Announcing the programme, the justice secretary, Michael Matheson, linked the SNP government’s development of effective community interventions with a reconviction rate that is at a 17-year low, driven largely by a decline in youth reoffending.

Image: Gary Cope

Scotland’s low reconviction rate is driven by a decline in youth reoffending. Image: Gary Cope

Matheson said: “There will always be crimes where a prison sentence is the only reasonable response, but international research backs our own experience that short-term sentences are not the most effective way to bring down reoffending.”

The Stirling University criminologist Hannah Graham, who carried out the report studies, said: “The recommendation to introduce electronic monitoring as an alternative to remand opens up extra opportunities to address [the high numbers of people on remand in prison] by closely monitoring and supporting more people in the community pre-trial, without losing sight of the need to ensure public safety.”

The Guardian has the full story.


In other news

Changing prison design could aid rehabilitation of offenders. Designing and operating prison building in specific ways could halve assaults on staff and significantly reduce the stress under which staff work. The report by a panel of prison managers, psychologists and criminologists was this week presented to MPs, peers and industry experts. FM World has more.


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