Increases in Prison officers dealing with inmates, riots at Whitemoor and the number of offenders being returned to custody skyrockets.
More Prison Officers at HMP Stoke Heath
Violence and self harm in Britain’s Prisons skyrocketed in early 2018, Justice Secretary David Gauke called it unacceptably high, with death, violence, and self harm reaching record levels. The government has earmarked £70 Million to fight the violence and drugs that are plaguing the prison system. HMP Stoke Heath is no exception and levels of violence have been rising in the prison. 179 assaults were recorded in 2018, 85 per cent more than in 2013.
Part of the £70 million is to train and employ 4000 new prison officers to work in the prisons and handle the inmates, who often have complex and long term issues. There are now 39,900 staff working in the country’s prisons, an increase of over 4000 since 2016.
HMP Stoke Heath is the only prison in Shropshire, it added to its workforce over the year to tackle rising levels of violence. The Government has recognized the need to boost prison officer numbers, as the pressures on staff to deal with all the prisoners effectively are too high. 18 full time officers were recruited last year, a six per cent increase, but this was sill 12 fewer that 2013. There are now 318 full staff at HMP Stoke Heath.
Riot at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire Causes Staff Injuries
HMP Whitemoor is a maximum security Jail in Cambridgeshire. It houses over 400 category A and B prisoners. It was reported that a number of prison officers had been injured in a riot there on Monday 25th February.
The violence caused several staff to need medical treatment after the incident was resolved. The riot was confined to one wing of the prison and was resolved by staff.
A spokes person for the prison service said “We do not tolerate violence in our prisons and, where incidents like this occur, will always push for the strongest possible punishment for those involved.”
There will be an investigation into the cause of the riot.
A National Audit Office report has flagged a huge rise in the number of offenders returned to prison for breaching their license, these tend to be prisoners on short sentences. The report was highly critical of the part privatization of the probation services that created the National Probation Service and the Community Rehabilitation Companies to deal with offenders being released.
Since 2015 all prisoners have had supervision on release in the community in an attempt to cut reoffending rates. However between January 2015 and September 2018, there was a 47% increase in offenders being recalled to prison! Sir Amyas Morse of the National Audit Office said the ministry only had itself to blame for this by rushing out the new system and creating risks it couldn’t manage. The number of offenders on short sentences recalled to custody also increased form 3% or 36%
The report said, “Offenders serving short sentences often find it difficult to comply with licence conditions as they are more likely to have chaotic lives, with accommodation difficulties, mental health problems and alcohol and drug dependency,” Chris Grayling’s Transforming Rehabilitation scheme created the National Probation Service to deal with high-risk cases, while remaining work was assigned to 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs).
These failings have been very costly for the public purse, and to add to the expense the MoJ is planning to end the CRC contracts 14months early. This will add £467 million to the scheme’s original bill. The changes have been gladly received, but Amyas Morse has warned the ministry to think long and hard about its next steps in transforming the probation service
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “Transforming Rehabilitation has meant that we are now monitoring 40,000 more offenders than we were in the past. However he recognises the poor performance of the CRCs and has committed another £22 million to offer services to offenders on release.
HMP Birmingham in lockdown for security searches
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke gave HMP Birmingham a shocking report last year. The report found high drug use with prisoners walking around like ‘zombies’ and the levels of violence critically high. The report found the prison officers to be ‘anxious and fearful’ as they went about their duties. The prison was run by private management, G4S, but was handed back to the state after it fell into crisis.
In Thursday’s lockdown inmates were confined to their cells and officers conducted sweeps of the prison. This was a ‘pre-planned intelligence led search’ said authorities. The MoJ said the search was part of their long term health and safety strategy.
Back in 2016 hundreds of specially trained “Tornado Team” officers were called into the prison to bring order to a huge riot that had 500 prisoners out of their cells. The riot lasted fifteen hours and caused more than £6 million of damage before it was brought under control. It was the worst disorder at a UK jail since the Manchester Strangeways riots in 1990.
Hitman, Mark Fellows Attacked in Whitemoor Prison
The hitman who murdered one of Salford’s leading gangsters, Paul Massey and his friend John Kinsella, has been attacked in jail and badly injured. 38 year old Mark Fellows has been airlifted to hospital just one month into a full life sentence.
Fellows was being held at Whitemoor maximum security prison in Cambridgeshire. It is being reported that he was cut all over his body with an unknown weapon
The Ministry of Justice says prison staff are investigating an incident between two prisoners on Wednesday.