Charity warns of prisons 'bloodbath'

Lewes prison
Lewes prison

A national charity says new Government figures show inmates face 'a bloodbath of assaults, suicides and self-injury in prisons'.

The figures, which were published by the Ministry of Justice today (Thursday), show the total number of assaults recorded in prisons increased by more than 34 per cent to 23,775 in the 12 months to the end of June 2016.

Meanwhile the number of people dying in prison in England and Wales rose by 21 per cent to 324 in the 12 months to the end of September 2016. They included 107 prisoners who took their own lives.

The Howard League for Penal Reform say the figures show that prison safety is declining in the UK as a result of staffing and budget cuts. The charioty's chief executive Frances Crook said: “The Ministry of Justice is presiding over a bloodbath of assaults, suicides and self-injury in prisons.

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

“The Secretary of State for Justice Elizabeth Truss has declared that making prisons safer is her priority, and we expect her plans to be made clear next month. But today’s figures show that we cannot wait for legislation – bold and radical action is needed now to stop the death toll rising further.

“The Howard League is about to publish a plan of action to tackle the immediate problems. We will be suggesting that small behaviour change by magistrates, prisons and probation could ease the pressure on prisons and save lives. I will present this to the Secretary of State at our meeting next month.”

Earlier this year the Government reported that the number of assaults reported at Lewes Prison rose to 154 in 2015 compared to 106 in the previous year - an increase of 45 per cent.

Meanwhile the number of serious assaults - which include sexual assaults and those resulting in severe injury - also increased at Lewes Prison, rising from 12 to 20 in 2015.

In April, the prison was told it needs to improve its safety measures after Martin Lomas, of HM Inspectorate of Prisons, reported a worrying level of violence in the establishment.

In his findings, he said: “Levels of violence and use of force were high and oversight of both were poor - at Lewes, the number of assaults was even higher than at other prisons recently inspected

“The general picture on violence, however, was complex and needed careful analysis, as prisoners reported feeling relatively safe and self-harm was lower than other similar prisons.”

45 per cent.

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