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Spend on security in prisons

In an £100m spend on security in prisons (including £70m announced previously), x-ray scanners and metal detectors, will be put into prisons across the estate to combat smuggled drugs, weapons and mobile phones, the Ministry of Justice announced. What the MoJ terms airport-style security will be concentrated in the closed estate.

The MoJ said that technology to detect and block mobile phones will be brought in to better identify and stop those who seek to organise drug supply or harass victims from the prison wings. To tackle corruption, the Ministry proposes intelligence analysis and more for the Counter Corruption Unit (begun in May under previous Justice Secretary David Gauke, as part of an earlier ‘crackdown on crime behind bars’) against dishonest staff and the criminals who seek to manipulate them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We cannot allow our prisons to become factories for making bad people worse. We will stop the drugs, weapons and the mobile phones coming in, so we can safeguard victims, protect staff, cut violence and make our prisons properly equipped to reform and rehabilitate. The public must see justice being done, punishment being served and feel protected.”

And Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC said: “There is a direct link between crime on the wings and crime on our streets – it can no longer be assumed that prison walls are enough to stop organised criminals from continuing their operations. This funding will have a transformative effect on prisons and give our hard-working officers the advantage as they tackle this scourge head-on. By disrupting those who continue to offend behind bars, we can keep our staff and other prisoners safe, and make sure that prisons truly fulfil their purpose of protecting the public.”

As background, see South Yorkshire Police’s website on their perimeter checks of HMP Doncaster on August 1.

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At the rehabilitation charity Nacro, Chief Executive Campbell Robb, said: “With record high levels of self harm and violence – investment to improve security within our prisons is important but it is not the only solution we need to truly tackle re-offending. We also need urgent investment to ensure that services within our prisons and local communities enable people to build new lives.

“Over three quarters of all crime that result in a caution or sentence are repeat offences committed by many people that have already been released from prison. The people we support upon their release from prison so often face an impossible struggle to turn away from crime because they are held back by homelessness, a lack of essential medication or health support, a lack of job opportunities or access to sufficient money to get food and the basics to survive.

“We have been calling for urgent investment to ensure that local authorities and NHS departments, voluntary organisations and businesses can work with the government to ensure that the right support is in place within our local communities for people leaving prison and those at risk of offending. This is where the focus should lie to help more people turn their back on crime once and for all.”

For Labour, Richard Burgon, Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “These measures fall woefully short of what is needed to make our prisons safe. Faced with a prisons emergency caused by austerity, Boris Johnson is timidly tinkering at the edges. Reckless Tory cuts to staffing and budgets unleashed unprecedented levels of violence in our prisons. The Tories have slashed the prisons budget by hundreds of millions of pounds and there are still thousands fewer prison officers than when they came to power. Our prisons have too few staff to safely manage the existing prison population, never mind any planned expansion.

“Boris Johnson should set out a detailed plan and provide proper funding to ensure that our prisons have the staffing and resources needed to focus on rehabilitation and reducing re-offending.”

Official inspections of prisons regularly find drug-related violence. For example, an unannounced inspection of the Isle of Wight prison found more than half of prisoners said they had felt unsafe during their time at HMP Isle of Wight and nearly a quarter felt unsafe at the time of the inspection (in 2015). While violence was still not widespread, it had risen significantly since the previous inspection and the response of managers was not good enough, leading to inconsistent challenge of perpetrators and little support for victims, inspectors said. Levels of self-harm were high and there had been three self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection. CCTV was not available on all wings.

For the full report of that category B male training prison visit https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/.


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