Violence has reached new heights in prisons across England and Wales, as increasing numbers of jails are characterized by staff cuts, overcrowding and failed rehabilitation practices, Britain’s chief inspector of prisons warns.
In his annual report published on Tuesday, Nick Hardwick
said too many jails in Britain are “places of violence,
squalor and idleness.”
Citing official state statistics, the report revealed there were
over 15,000 assaults in men’s prisons in England and Wales in
2014 – the highest figure in a decade.
Hardwick’s damning report also found that staff cuts and
overcrowding in jails have had “significant” impact on
Britain’s penal system, and have sparked increased numbers of
attacks on prison staff and inmates.
An average week of violence, death & injury in prisons in
England & Wales, according to HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
– The Howard League (@TheHowardLeague)
July 14, 2015
The study revealed there were 1,466 serious assaults by the close
of 2013 in UK prisons, compared with 2,009 at the end of 2014. It
said the majority of these assaults were serious, with more
weapons being used in 2014 than in 2013.
It also found many of these attacks were “fueled by the
increased use of new psychoactive substances.”
Reflecting on Britain’s prison crisis, Hardwick said inmates are
more likely to die in jails today than they were five years ago.
He said murders, cases of self-harm, serious assaults and
violence are on the rise in male prisons.
Hardwick, who will step down from his role in January 2016, said
overcrowding is compounding these issues.
Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform
Andrew Neilson told RT Hardwick had delivered a “sobering
verdict” on the state of UK prisons in his latest report.
“The Howard League has been warning for some time that
prisons are becoming increasingly unsafe and that prisoners spend
too much time locked in their cells with nothing to do,” he
Neilson argued prison chiefs cannot cope with increased demand in
prisons in the face of dwindling resources. He backed Hardwick’s
findings, saying ministers must consider radical reforms to deal
with overcrowding in prisons and allocate scant resources more
“There are many people currently languishing in prison who
need not be there,” Neilson added.
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data published in March reveals three
out of four men’s jails in the UK accommodate more inmates than
they’re designed to.
Homicide rates at record levels, serious assaults up 55% -Nick
Hardwick “this can’t go on like this- Gove needs to reduce
– simon israel (@simonisrael) July
Commenting on high levels of overcrowding at the time, Frances
Cook of the Howard League for Penal Reform slammed government
inaction, saying the government “must get a grip on a prison
system in crisis.”
Crook also told the BBC prisoners are dying as a “direct
result” of prison staff cuts.
Hardwick’s report said the government must find a way to bring
down Britain’s prison population, which currently stands at
Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick is scathing on the
‘rehabilitation revolution’ promised by new Govt in 2010
– Jack Blanchard (@Jack_Blanchard_)
July 14, 2015
He said badly needed rehabilitative reforms have yet to start in
Britain, as prisoners spend their days cooped up in their cells
watching “daytime TV.”
Hardwick said prison governors are “struggling” with
government cuts, emphasizing that new Justice Secretary Michael
Gove Michael Gove “has some huge challenges” ahead.
On Sunday, Gove indicated that he is eager reform Britain’s
criminal justice system, with prisoner rehabilitation being a key
He said those “languishing in prison” are “potential
assets” who could be “productive and contribute” to
society at large.