Prisons in the press – 17 February

Prisons rife with Spice and contraband in crisp packets

Image: Umami

Prison visitor tried to smuggle drugs and phones in crisp packets. Image: Umami


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

Cutting prison numbers is a “dangerous quick fix”, says Justice Secretary Liz Truss. Sky News reports that in her first major speech on the subject, Liz Truss said it is right for “wicked” people who have committed serious crimes to spend longer behind bars.


Revealed this week

  1. Chaos in one of the biggest prisons in the country has been revealed in secret filming for the BBC. Monday night’s Panorama report reveals widespread use of drugs, a lack of control, door alarms that did not work and a hole in an internal security fence at HMP Northumberland.
  2. Prison “culture change” needed to prevent suicides, according to a new report. Campaigners say a “profound” shift is needed to move from a primarily punitive approach to one centred around rehabilitation and recovery. ITV has the story.
  3. Wrexham super-prison policing bill concerns raised. HMP Berwyn is expected to open at the end of the month at a cost of £250m. A permanent team of North Wales Police offices will be stationed there, but the Ministry of Justice has been asked for more money. The BBC has more.


Drugs and contraband chaos   

  1. Man set up own arrest to sell Spice in prison. The BBC reports that Kevin Hancock, 40, deliberately got arrested for shoplifting so he could make money selling drugs in prison.
  2. Spice smuggler jailed for trying to get drugs into Strangeways – as prison boss admits that Spice is causing chaos in the prison system. Wayne Kelly, 56, was locked up for 18 months after guards caught him trying to enter the jail with two ounces of the clss B drug in his trousers. The Manchester Evening News has more.
  3. Inmate high on Spice broke jaw of respected prison officer at troubled HMP Northumberland. James Taylor was meant to be confined to his cell for having drugs but lashed out after spending the day smoking legal highs. The Chronicle Live has the story.
  4. Prison visitor tried to sneak drugs and phones in jail in packet of crisps. Officers later unwrapped the package and found four miniature phones, four miniature charges, a sim card, 28g of hashish, and 8.5g of skunk cannabis. The Manchester Evening News has the story.


In context

In her first major speech on the subject, Liz Truss made clear she does not intend to bow to calls from her predecessors to reduce the number of prisoners from 85,000 to 45,000, a level last seen in 1990.

While campaigners have warned that Britain’s overcrowded prisons are putting lives at risk, the Justice Secretary said the increase in numbers is not just down to longer sentences but far higher reporting of offences such as domestic violence over the past 20 years.

liz truss female lord high chancellor

Liz Truss: Justice Secretary. Image: Number 10

Ms Truss said:

“The wrong approach would be reducing sentences for serious crimes or letting people out early.

“Reductions by cap or quota, or by sweeping sentencing cuts are not a magic bullet, they are a dangerous attempt at a quick fix. This would be reckless and endanger the public.”

Sky News has the full story.


In other news

Plans to transform Gloucester Prison into 210 homes unveiled. City and Country, the developer, wants to provide around 210 homes on the site by converting some of the existing structures and constructing new multi-storey apartment buildings. Gloucetershire Live has the story.


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