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Prison assaults still on rise

Prisons in England and Wales saw 34,112 assault incidents reported in the 12 months to June 2019. That was a rise of 5pc from the 12 months to June 2018. In the most recent quarter, assaults did fall by 1pc to 8,360 incidents. That’s all according to the latest ‘Safety in Custody’ statistics, from the Ministry of Justice.

Assault rates were higher in male establishments (413 incidents per thousand prisoners) than female establishments (401 incidents per thousand prisoners) in the latest 12 months. Assault rates on staff have historically been higher in female prisons.

There were 24,139 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, in the 12 months to June 2019 (a rate of 292 per thousand prisoners), an increase of 3pc. Assaults on staff continue to rise; they totalled 10,424 in the 12 months to June 2019, a rise of 10pc from the previous 12 months. In the latest quarter the number of assaults on staff increased by 3pc, to 2,617 incidents.

Of the 34,112 assault incidents, some 3,928 (12pc) were deemed serious; whether defined as a sexual assault or stabbing, fracture, scald or burn; requiring detention in outside hospital as an in-patient; medical treatment for concussion or internal injuries.

The number of prisoners self-harming increased; as did the number of self-harm incidents requiring hospital attendance.


Richard Burgon, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Tory cuts have unleashed an unprecedented cycle of violence in our prisons. These appalling figures show you cannot trust the Tories to deal with the prisons crisis.”

Separately, after an official inspection of HMYOI Feltham, the site was described as ‘appalling’. Separate reports were on units A and B. In A, which holds children aged 15 to 17, convicted or remanded, inspectors found that violent incidents had risen by 45pc since the previous inspection only six months earlier. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: “Despite the challenges facing staff, there now needs to be a fundamental change in approach at Feltham. The practice of containing the behavioural problems of the boys rather than addressing them had failed to deliver a safe or rehabilitative environment. Neither boys nor staff were safe.” Mr Clarke described Feltham B as ‘a complex and challenging establishment’.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, called for Feltham A to be closed.


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