Prisons in Parliament

Where’s the beef behind the White Paper? 

Crack down on drones, but how? Asks minister. Photo: Richard Unten

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.

Prison safety on the agenda this week. David Hanson MP (Labour) brought the motion:

“We will never be able to address the issue of re-offending if we do not address the current level of violence and safety issues in our prisons” he said.

Hanson called for clarification on how the Government’s White Paper will work:

  • How will the supply and demand for drugs and mobile phones be reduced in practice?
  • How will no fly zones work? And parameters around prisons be “secured”?
  • By what date will the aspired ratio of one prison officer to six prisoners be reached?
  • How will staff retention be addressed and experienced staff encouraged to stay on?

“The White Paper is sending out signals about aspirations, without necessarily having any beef behind them” said Hanson.

Sam Gyimah pointed to the increased budget as proof that the department intend to follow through on aspired reforms. “£100 million for staffing and £550 million overall. That underscores our commitment to deal with the challenges in the prison system” he said.

Gyimah said legislation would be introduced in the next session in regards to drugs and mobile phones. In the meantime he said, new pay and pension packages have been agreed with frontline staff to improve retention rates.

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In context

Safety deteriorates, latest figures show:

  • Over 60 per cent of our prisons are overcrowded
  • Deaths in prison have doubled to 324 last year.
  • There were 36,440 reported incidents of self-harm last year
  • Assaults on the rise to 23,775 assaults
  • The use of dangerous liquids as an assault mechanism on prisoners and staff has gone from zero incidents in 2010 to 193 in 2015.

Rising drug usage and new psychoactive substances.

  • In 2010, there were 16 recorded incidents involving new psychoactive substances in prisons, but in 2014, there were 436: a 2,625% increase


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