Prisons in the press – 28 October

Scotland’s falling prison population and the play that could change Government policy


An idea born behind prison bars could soon change government policy. Image:


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

Keep under-25s out of adult prisons, MPs urge. Young people should be treated differently by the criminal justice system because their brains are not fully formed, says the House of Commons justice select committee. The Guardian has the full story


Revealed this week

  1. Prison violence epidemic partly due to staff cuts, Ministry of Justice admits. The latest figures show that self-inflicted deaths inside jails rose 13 per cent to a record 107 in the 12 months to September. The Guardian has the full story.
  2. Scotland’s prison population falls to 10-year low. Prison should be used only for those who have committed the most serious crimes, Scotland’s chief inspector said as he welcomed figures showing the number of inmates at its lowest level for almost a decade. The Scotsman has more.
  3. Prison and probation “must be overhauled to cut re-offending that costs taxpayer billions of pounds”. Ministers wee urged to push up staffing numbers and bring in legislation to establish a new rehabilitation “duty”. The Telegraph has the full story.
  4. We governors warned of the danger of more prison deaths, but no one listened. The £14m pledged by the justice secretary won’t go far enough in stopping violence such as the killing of Jamal Mahmoud in Pentonville prison. The Guardian has more.


The prisons that hit the headlines   

  1. Birmingham prison staff fears over inmate drug use. An “urgent” solution is needed to stop HMP Birmingham prisoners taking psychoactive drugs, a report says. The BBC has more.
  2. HMP Highpoint inmate held prison staff hostage for over three hours with makeshift “shiv”. Lee Twyman is said to have held a member of staff hostage to get himself transferred to another prison. The Ely Standard has the full story.
  3. Jail chiefs combat staff assaults at Scotland’s most violent prison. Sharpened mop handles, pool balls, chairs and scalding hot water have been used by inmates to attack staff at Perth Prison, a new study has revealed. The Courier has more.
  4. Hydebank prison “significantly improved” but drugs still a concern. There have been significant improvements at Northern Ireland’s prison for women and young male offenders, inspectors have said. The BBC has the full story.


In context

Young offenders up to the age of 25 should be kept out of adult prisons because of “irrefutable evidence” that the typical adult male brain is not fully formed until at least the mid-20s, MPs have said.

The House of Commons justice select committee says young adults, who make up 10 per cent of the adult prison population but account for 30-40 per cent of police time, should be treated differently by the criminal justice system.

Image: Commons Select Committee

Image: Commons Select Committee

The MPs argue:

“As the brain is a plastic organ it can heal to an extent up to the age of 25 if taken out of ‘aversive circumstances’ which can cause brain changes, for example, separation from family and friends and exposure to punitive conditions.”

“While the brain is continuing to develop there is a risk that problems will be compounded by involvement in the criminal justice system itself and that opportunities will be missed to repair the development harm caused by brain injury or other forms of trauma.”

The Guardian has the full story.


In other news

Key Change: From prison cell to sell-out show. Changing the world one play at a time is the ambitious aim of a small women’s theatre group from Newcastle which works with women on the margins of society.

Its Key Change was hatched behind prison walls in 2013 and has reached the heights of Broadway. Now it could even influence government policy. The BBC has more.


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