In the past decade we have seen an increase in the rates of violence with UK Prisons.
Statistics show a rise of up to 60 cases per 100 prisoners, this has been blamed on the lack of experience from staff and overcrowding within the Prisons.
Experts have said that the findings have reflected the disorder inside the UK prison system, which has been described as in deep crisis.
The use of force against inmates in UK Prisons has doubled in the last decade creating an ongoing concern over the high levels of violence and disorder in prisons.
One theory is that this is due to a lack of experience within the staffing of the Prisons with an increase in young officers. Another factor is the huge problem of overcrowding, leading to the rise of violence against prisoners and staff. Statistics show that force has been used 49,111 times in England and Wales in the 12 months before the Coronavirus pandemic began.
Spokesman Nick Davies has said that this evidence has come from the drastically declining standards within our prisons. Cuts to prison funding, and staff numbers in the first half of the last decade were followed by even larger increases in incidents of assault, self-harm and poor prisoner behaviour, and the reduced opportunities for rehabilitation. Although there has been funding throughout, there is still a lot of work to be done to begin to build the standards back to the way they were.
There is also talks of new prisons being built, but it is unsure if whether these will be built in time to help aid in the rise in numbers of inmates.
The increase in inmates = increased force between staff and inmates
According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, force was used 59.1 times per 100 inmates in the year from April 2019. Compared to data taken from 2011-2012, has shown force was used approximately 27 times per 100 prisoners.
Assistant General Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association Mick Pimblett, said this came as no surprise as these figures coincide with a period of instability in our prisons, where record levels of violence against our members by prisoners and among prisoners themselves were on the rise. The evidence shows that the increase in violence can be seen from the reduced staffing levels and budget cuts imposed on Prisons in recent years, which could lead to be the main factor to these figures.
What now? Changes from Covid-19 for the future of inmates and staff…
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, studies had seen a decrease in the numbers of violence shown between members of staff and inmates, and those towards other inmates. Restrictions put in place had enforced a drop in numbers, these restrictions meant longer time spent in cells, and no visits, or group activities. The plan to slowly lift these restrictions without returning to chaos is now in debate, however, even with restrictions being lifted within the prisons this will not change any pressures on the current staffing situations just because of the health emergency.
However, Mick Pimblett, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said “Since March 2020, the Covid crisis has proved that – with improved staffing levels, investment and spans of control – violence can be reduced in prisons by building relationships with prisoners in a way that was not possible prior to March 2020.”
We can see that there is now an opportunity to improve conditions within our UK Prisons. The Prison Service stated that the officers use force as a last resort, and in most cases it is unfortunately necessary to protect themselves or others from harm. They have said that there are plans in place where there will be spending’s of up to £100m to improve prison security, including clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and crime behind bars.