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UK: Parliamentary committee: safety in prisons continues "to deteriorate significantly"
16 May 2016
A new report from the House of Commons Justice Committee examines "the Government's response to the ongoing and rapid deterioration in prison safety in England and Wales which began in 2012" and concludes that "overall levels of safety in prisons have not stabilised as the Ministry [of Justice] hoped, let alone improved and continue to deteriorate significantly."
See: House of Commons Justice Committee, Prison safety,16 May 2016
And: Prison safety: action plan urgently needed to reverse rapid deterioration
"The Justice Committee publishes their report on prison safety, concluding that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) must produce an action plan for improving prison safety, addressing the factors underlying the rises in violence, self-harm and suicide."
The Committee highlights that:
"The most recent safety in custody statistics and the data for the previous quarter show higher rates of self-inflicted deaths, self-harm and assaults than in the corresponding previous 12 months, and ongoing significant growth in the number of assaults and self-harm incidents:
Assaults rose 20% in the 6 months to December 2015 compared to the preceding 6 months. There were 2,690 assaults against staff in the six months to December 2015, an increase of 18% compared to the previous 6 months.
Since January 2015 each quarter there have been over 150 serious assaults between prisoners. A prison officer working for Serco, Lorraine Barwell, tragically died in July 2015 after being attacked by a prisoner she was escorting from court.
In the 12 months to March 2016 there were 100 self-inflicted deaths – up from 79 in the previous year.
According the Prison Officers’ Association, deployment of tactical intervention teams from the National Tactical Response Group (NTRG) – which attends incidents at height, incidents of hostage taking and incidents of concerted indiscipline – have reached “unprecedented levels” of 30 to 40 times a month.
There were 1,935 fires in adult prisons and young offender establishments in 2015, a 57% increase on 2014."
And see: Riot squads called into prisons on daily basis, MPs hear
(The Guardian, link):
"Riot squads have been called into volatile jails across England and Wales at a rate of 30 to 40 times a month to deal with serious disorder, according to evidence submitted to MPs by prison officers.
The Prison Officers Association told the MPs that intervention teams’ from the prison service’s National Tactical Response Group had been called to jails with unprecedented frequency between March and November last year. They had dealt with serious disorder including rooftop protests, hostage-taking and incidents of “concerted indiscipline”."