Prisons in the press – 4 November

2,500 more officers to be recruited to fight the war on drugs, drones and mobile phones

... Image: Don McCullough

Eagles could soon be used to down drones. Image: Don McCullough

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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

Prisons in England and Wales to get 2,500 extra staff to tackle violence. Justice Secretary Liz Truss to announce £104m recruitment drive to combat sharp rise in drug abuse and attacks. The Guardian has the full story

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Revealed this week

  1. The number of women dying in prison is at its highest rate for more than a decade. A total of 19 women have died in prison so far this year, at least eight of those deaths were self-inflicted. Campaigning group Inquest say more women should not be imprisoned at all and are calling on prison chiefs to take action to prevent further deaths. The Manchester Evening News has more.
  2. Eagles could be used to guard prisons from drones being used to smuggle in drugs, weapons and other contraband. Prisons minister Sam Gyimah said the birds of prey could be recruited to take down remote-controlled miniature aircraft as they are flown towards jails. MailOnline has more.
  3. Prison governor wants longer sentences to help female inmates who have been abused. Suzy Dymond-White, governor of HMP Eastwood Park in Falfield, South Gloucestershire, has appealed for judges to hand down longer sentences as she says it is “impossible for inmates to be rehabilitated in a few short weeks”. The BBC has the story.
  4. Magistrates demand prison visit as part of judicial training. Such visits are not currently part of formal training and in some areas, individual magistrates have to make their own arrangements in order to obtain a firsthand look at prison conditions. The Guardian has more.
  5. People in prison should receive the same level of care as those outside. New guidance from NICE will ensure that people in prison receive the same standard of healthcare as those in society, especially as prisoners are at a higher risk of chronic ill-health – for example asthma and diabetes – than those outside. NICE has the full story.

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The prisons that hit the headlines   

  1. Prison staff were forced to “retreat to safety” when inmates “went on the rampage” at an East Sussex jail. Cells and offices were damaged in the disorder at HMP Lewes, which Prison Officers Association chairman Mike Rolfe said was brought to an end by a national response unit. The BBC has more.
  2. Leeds Mayor pays a visit to inmates at Armley Prison. Coun Gerry Harper was served food and given a presentation by inmates involved in the education programme at HMP Leeds. Prisoners told the Lord Mayor about the “life-changing skills they have developed in Armley’s jail – which they hope will prevent them from re-offending. The Yorkshire Evening Post has the full story.
  3. Prison governor defends HMP Perth from “most violent” tag. Brenda Stewart was reacting to recent figures released through the Freedom of Information Act, which showed 13 serious assaults at the prison in the last year, compared to seven the previous year. The Courier has more. 
  4. A new prison will be built on the site of the mothballed HMP Wellingborough, it has been announced. The Ministry of Justice confirmed the former category C prison as the first site for potential redevelopment under the government’s moderation drive. It is part of a scheme to close old Victorian jails. The BBC has more.

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In context

An extra 2,500 prison officers are to be recruited to tackle “unacceptable” levels of violence in jails across England and Wales at a cost of £104m, the justice secretary, Elizabeth Truss, has confirmed.

Truss told BBC Radio 4 that she would not consider “arbitrary reductions in the prison population” or expanding early release programmes for offenders to deal with the “serious situation”.

She disclosed that the extra officers include 400 for the 10 most violent jails she announced at the Tory party conference last month and will be funded by new government money.

liz truss female lord high chancellor

Liz Truss: Announced £104m investment to drive recruitment. Image: Number 10

She said:

“This will be the first time ever that the secretary of state is not just responsible for housing prisoners but is responsible for their reform. We are going to put that in primary legislation.”

“There will be new powers for the prisons inspectorate to identify failing prisons and a new legal duty on the secretary of state to intervene in them. That is the first time that has happened.”

The Guardian has the full story.

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In other news

The prison officers helping ex-prisoners back into work. Two retired prison officers are trying to help the men they used to guard to return to the world of employment. Steve Freer and Val Wawrosz, who worked together in HMP Leeds, have founded a charity called Tempus Novo to find jobs for prisoners who have served their sentences. The BBC has the full story.

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