Prisons in the press – 2 December

The drug dodging prison guard and the campaign to change food behind bars


The campaign to improve prison nutrition Image: SB

The campaign to improve prison nutrition Image: SB

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

A record number of inmates have taken their own lives in prisons in England and Wales so far this year. The Howard League for Penal Reform said it knew of 102 suicides this year, the highest since records began. The BBC has the full story.


Revealed this week

  1. Inspectors slam HMP Hindley for having one of the worst daily routines, labelling time spent in cells as “unjustifiable”. Inmates at Greater Manchester’s HMP Hindley were regularly locked in cells for more than 24 hours, leaving them unable to attend work or education. The BBC has the full story.
  2. West Midlands Ambulance has been called out to Stoke Heath Prison more than 30 times in just 10 months. HMP Oakwood, the UK’s largest prison based in the south Staffordshire village of Featherstone, just off the M54, had the most call-outs with 257. The Shropshire Star has more.
  3. Jail boss reveals 8,000 prison officers needed over next two years – as Government wants to recruit an extra 2,500. Surging violence, drugs abuse and self-harm behind bars have triggered a staffing crisis in the country’s overcrowded jails. The Mirror has the full story.
  4. Prison guard has blocked £400,000 drugs parcels reaching HMP Altcourse inmates. Sharon Sallery has blocked the flow of a host of suspect packages into the Fazakerely complex – with this year’s bounty alone said to have included hundreds of pills and a haul of legal highs. The Liverpool Echo has the full story.


In comment this week  

  1. Our prisons are overflowing with immature and vulnerable men. Young men don’t mature psychologically until their mid-20s. Condemning so many to the toxic environment of our jails is a recipe for reoffending and suicide. Nathan Roberts, CEO of Band of Brothers, a charity committed to positive social change through personal development and community building, writes in the Guardian.
  2. A member of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Bedford raised the alarm about its perilous conditions, and wants an urgent rethink about jails. We warned that the prisoners could riot. But the minister didn’t listen, writes Christopher Padfield for the Guardian.
  3. Pentonville prison neighbours: “We feel unsafe in shadow of jail”. A CCTV camera pointing towards the sky and metal bars being hurled over the walls are just some of the reasons why people with homes next door to HMP Pentonville say they feel unsafe. Islington Gazette’s Emma Youle finds out what it’s like to live within metres of one of Britain’s most notorious jails.


In context

This week the Howard League revealed the number of inmates committing suicide behind bars had soared to record levels.

102 inmates in jails across England and Wales committed suicide this year, compared to the previous highest toll recorded by the charity, which was 94 in 2004.

The charity said cuts to staffing budgets had “created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery.”

Image:  Frances Crook

Image: Frances Crook

Howard League chief executive Frances Crook said:

“The number of people dying by suicide in prison has reached epidemic proportions.”

“No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they take their own life, and yet every three days a family is told that a loved one had died behind bars.”

“Cutting staff and prison budgets while allowing the number of people behind bars grown unchecked has created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery.”

The BBC has more.


In other news

Why I’m campaigning for better food in UK prisons. Huffington Post’s Lucy Vincent sets out her campaign to push for better nutrition in UK jails comparing the food currently served as “akin to school dinners before Jamie Oliver brought about change 11 years ago. Think excess carbohydrates and a severe lack of fresh fruit and veg.”


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