Prisons in the press – 25 November

Tougher community sentences and increasing violence behind bars

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Prison staff across the country have this week been injured in a number of riots. Image: macwagen

Prison staff across the country have this week been injured in a number of riots. Image: macwagen

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

Top judge urges tougher community service as an alternative to prison. Lord chief justice says fewer criminal should be jailed and tougher community punishments developed as an alternative to imprisonment. The Guardian has the full story.

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Revealed this week

  1. Fewer prison officers and more assaults: how UK prison staffing has changed. This week’s walkouts by prison officers were in protest at staff shortages and escalating violence – and the data shows that the ratio of staff to offenders has indeed dropped in the last few years. The Guardian has more. 
  2. Chancellor Philip Hammond promises 2,500 extra guards in prisons by 2020 after officer strike over surge in lag violence. He handed prisons a £555million injection to improve safety. The Sun has the full story.
  3. Prison guard warns inmates run the jails now as she admits officers have lost control in crisis. Former warder Kelly Smith claims it is only a matter of time before a prison officer is killed on the job. The Mirror has the full story.
  4. UK prison anarchy exposed as 19-day investigation reveals 30 guards attacked, hostage taking, legal highs and £1million of damage in HMP Bedford. The Sun’s investigation shows UK jails have become little more than a war-zone as the level of rioting, violence and drug-abuse reaches tipping point. The Sun has more.

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The prisons that hit the headlines   

  1. Cells damaged and inmates injured at HMP Moorland during a riot. Forty prisoners at the Doncaster jail were involved, with fire and water damage caused in one of the wings. The BBC has the full story.
  2. Justice watchdog raises “significant” concerns over prison safety at Maghaberry. Little has been done to help vulnerable prisoners or tackle drug abuse at Northern Ireland’s only high security jail, inspectors have found. The Belfast Telegraph has more.
  3. Prison officer has his ear bitten off by mentally unstable inmate. A prison officer at Wormwood Scrubs was head-butted, punched and had his ear bitten off before being rushed to hospital. MailOnline has more.

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In context

Appearing before MPs on the justice select committee on Monday, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd urged that fewer criminals should be jailed and tougher community punishments developed as an alternative to imprisonment.

The most senior judge in England and Wales welcomed the introduction of US-style “problem-solving courts”, whereby offenders are brought back regularly to have their sentences and progress reviewed by a judge after conviction.

Lord Chief Justice Thomas ... Image: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

Lord Chief Justice Thomas Cwmgiedd. Image: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

Thomas said there had been a “pause in the government’s thinking” but hoped the scheme would be expanded.

He added: “There’s an awful lot we can do to avoid sending certain people to prison provided that the orders are properly carried out by the probation and rehabilitation companies.”

“The prison population is very, very high at the moment. Whether it will continue to rise is always difficult to tell. There are worries that it will. I don’t know whether we can dispense with more [offenders] by really rough, and I do mean tough community penalties. So I would like to see that done first.”

The Guardian has the full story.

 

In other news

The Lincolnite has chronicled the notorious former inmates of Lincoln Prison. Devious politicians, serial killers and English radicals locked away for treason, Lincoln’s Prison’s most notable former inmates have played a lasting role in a history of unthinkable crimes. The Lincolnite has the full story.

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