This week in Briton’s Prisons
HMC Inspector of Prisons says, “He will never forget the squalid conditions at HMP Birmingham.
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke said it had been another, ‘deeply troubling year for some parts of the prison system,’ as his annual report was published this week.
Much of the prison estate is still riddled with drugs and violence, living conditions are pretty grim in some places and there is still alack of positive rehabilitative activity.
In 2018-2019 Clarke used the Urgent Notification Protocol three times. This means the secretary of state has to respond publically with an action plan. One of those prisons was HMP Birmingham, which was bad enough to be singled out in the annual report.
The report says the cells are dirty, damp and overcrowded leading to awful living conditions. The conditions were rife for pest infestation and there were problems with fleas, cockroaches and other rodents.
It went on to say that vulnerable prisoners were especially prone to be in cells not fit for habitation. One prisoner was living in a, “filthy flooded cell”. Blood from a prisoner who had self-harmed the day before was left on the floor of the cell; no one had bothered to clean it up.
Vanessa George, 49, was convicted of sex crimes against young children in 2009. She was sentenced to serve a minimum of seven years in jail for taking photographs of very small children and babies while she abused them.
George also traded the photos with other paedophiles. She admitted taking up to eight pictures a day.
Following a parole board review it has been revealed that George is no longer regarded as a significant threat to public safety and will be released in due course. The exact date of her release is not known.
The abuse happened at Little Ted’s Nursery in Plymouth. The effects of her abuse of the babies reverberated throughout the childcare industry, and left people deeply shocked. The judge said she had, “plumbed new depths of depravity”.
George refused to name some of the babies she abused, she did not include faces in her photographs so parents were left not knowing if their child had been abused or not.
Tommy Robinson or Stephen Yaxley Lennon as he was christened was found guilty of interring in the trial of a sex grooming ring. The actual crime was called ‘contempt of court.’ Robinson is infamous for the part he plays in the English Defense Lead and has gained himself some notoriety for his racist beliefs and actions.
He was actually convicted of the crime last May and given a 13 month sentence but after he went to the Court of Appeal he was granted a full retrial at tax payers expense.
Robinson claimed he was a reporter and that his freedom of expression was being denied. However, freedom of expression has its limits, especially if it endangers someone else’s freedom. Robinson’s activities were seen as a threat to the gang members receiving a fair trail as the FB live stream could influence future jurors in the trials.
Robinson, had set up a Face Book live outside Leeds Crown Court that was viewed by 250,00 people. The judge had already put an order on the trial saying no details were to be released until the all the trails of the gang members had been completed.
This is known as contempt of court and is punishable by up to two years in jail. It’s a broad term for a range of offences against the courts and justice system. It is about protecting everyone’s right to a free and fair trail.
Mustafa Esmail, 21, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. He admitted five counts of grievous bodily harm after driving into a group of pedestrians in south London.
Esmail and his friends had been denied entry to a bar in the early hours of the morning on December 12, 2017. A fight ensued and Esmail threated and assaulted another man before leaving the scene.
He arrived back in a VW Golf and drove up onto the pavement and into a group of pedestrians. Esmail then fled the scene.
He injured five men in the attack; they suffered multiple broken bones including leg fractures, a broken shin and a spleen injury. Officers from Lambeth CID identified the car used in the attack was a rental vehicle, hired the previous day.
After a long manhunt Esmail was arrested On Thursday, June 21 this year, He was stopped on Brompton Close in Hounslow, west London. He gave false details but his fingerprints identified him as being involved in the Lambeth incident.
HMP Manchester was given a list of improvements to make after its 2018 unannounced inspection. Despite the improvements governor Rob Young says he has made prison, inspector found the prison to have made slow and weak progress in key areas.
“The response to the 2018 inspection can only be described as too late and too weak … we found there had been little or no meaningful progress against two-thirds of our recommendations,” said Mr. Clarke. “
There had been a good reduction on assaults against prisoners, but it still needed to reduce violence against staff. To do this the prison would have to implement the list of actions the inspection recommended as a priority.
Other areas where little or no progress had been made were reducing lack of force used by officers, use of body cams, and scrutiny of reported incidents. There have been three suicides since July 2018. Clarke says, “It is bewildering to find that actions to prevent deaths in custody simply had not been reviewed until shortly before our visit”.
In the well-resourced and staffed prison, Mr Clarke was clearly confused as to why no improvements had been made when they were so clearly spelled out last year.