Funding Cuts Have Drastic Impact on UK Prison System
The UK prison system is home to 85,000 inmates, a record number. It is a number which shows no sign of getting smaller either. In fact, the only population which seems to be dwindling in UK prisons is that of the staff. Various funding cuts have resulted in there being 28% fewer prison officers now than in 2010, this has had a major impact on levels of safety in British prisons.
The House of Commons Justice Committee, in a recent report, stated that it had ‘grave concerns’ about safety levels in British prisons. The committee was also critical of various ministers for trying to downplay the significance of the rise of deaths in British prisons since 2012. There has been a 38% rise. Officials, in particular under justice secretary Chris Grayling, denied that there was any link between funding cuts and the rise in the number of deaths.
Even more startling figures can be found in the report. The number of assaults, both on staff members and inmates, rose by 7.1% between 2012 and 2014. The suicide rate in prison rose sharply too. It is clear that much of these can be related to drastic funding cuts in public prisons.
We are now seeing a situation where the prison population is rising at an alarming rate and yet we are not employing the number of staff needed to keep tabs on all of them. This has created a rather hostile environment. Prison staff no longer have the time to harbour a relationship between themselves and the prisoners, and this has resulted in a situation where if a problem does occur it can be very difficult to keep it under control. A statement we have seen ring true by the amount of tornado teams called in recently to deal with ”
disturbances”, such as the one at Deerbolt prison on the 8th of March 2015.
Or the one at Swaleside prison dubbed as a “major incident” by the Mirror online.
Funding cuts have also resulted in a huge decrease in the number of courses and work opportunities offered to prison inmates. In fact, there are many prisons out there which do not have any work opportunities available to inmates at all. This has created a situation where inmates are not getting the help that they need to reform. This may lead to a rise in reoffending rates in the future and will of course result in an even more strained prison system.
The Ministry of Justice, in light of this report, has pledged to increase the number of prison officers by 1,700 before the end of 2015 and has also pledged to look into introducing more activities for inmates to engage in. This should hopefully help to smooth the transition from ‘prison life’ to the ‘real world’.
However we will keep a close eye on just how many new staff the MOJ actually employ and tally that up with the amount they lose due to the incredibly difficult conditions they expect officers to work in!
http://www.howardleague.org/weekly-prison-watch/(current UK prison population)
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31935534 (Bulk of stats)