Every two days a member of staff is assaulted.
These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright PA Levels of violence are up, staff numbers are down and complaints about overcrowding are widespread. Why are prisons in England and Wales under pressure? The Ministry of Justice - which controls prisons in England and Wales - had, unusually, granted permission for me to visit a jail for a radio documentary about prison violence.
Image copyright Alamy Image caption High Down prison in Surrey They had chosen High Down, a prison built on the site of an old mental hospital and now home to 1, male inmates. I waited in the visitors centre worried my visit might be cancelled, but half an hour later the incident had been resolved.
Click to see content: A prisoner had clambered on to the safety netting under a landing because he was unhappy with the regime and wanted to move to another jail.
Mr Bickers explained that prisoner protests were a common occurrence, but required adept handling.
At that stage, High Down was on the edge of instability. Since then, a number of jails in England and Wales have fallen over the edge. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe footage is understood to have been filmed by inmates of HMP Birmingham The recent disturbances at Lewes, Bedford, Birmingham and Swaleside prisons; the fatal stabbing of an inmate at Pentonville, followed by the escape of two of its prisoners; and the record number of prisoner suicides and assaults on staff all provide concrete evidence of the turmoil behind bars.
Inin his last annual report as Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick said jails were in their worst state for a decade. There have always been problems. For many years, internal reports painted a picture of daily outbreaks of violence, cell fires and self-harm across the prisons estate.
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe aftermath of the Strangeways Prison riot The worst disorder in the history of the prison service came in when two people died and hundreds were injured during rioting at Strangeways, in Manchester.
It evolved into a day protest against the squalid conditions and was followed by disturbances at eight other prisons.
The report into Strangeways was meant to be a watershed. It did lead to some improvements, including the beginning of the end of the practice of slopping out, where prisoners used chamber pots in their cells, but it did not herald an end to prison overcrowding.
Justice and policing are devolved matters for Scotland and Northern Ireland. There has been nothing like the same rise in the jail population in Scotland, where the latest figure, around 7, is the lowest it has been for a decade.
In Northern Ireland, there are some 1, people in custody, about fewer than in the mids. Some lobby groups and criminologists point to a "moral panic" following the murder in of the toddler James Bulger.
Experts describe a sentencing "arms race" between political parties vying to be the strongest on law and order. Former Conservative leader Michael Howard's "prison works" versus former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".
|Are prisons in England and Wales facing a meltdown? | Society | The Guardian||But the system — beset with the chronic under-staffing of prison officers, spiralling violence, drug abuse, over-crowding, self-harming, suicides and high-profile prisoner escapes, amongst a host of problems — is facing what could be termed an existential crisis.|
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionInside Wandsworth Prison: Trashed cells, hooch and legal highs Whatever the reasons, average sentence lengths have crept up, more offenders have been jailed for life or indeterminate terms and growing numbers of released prisoners have had to return to custody for breaching their licence conditions.On one level, the crisis can be explained with a simple numerical fact: there are too many prisoners and too few staff.
Today there are around 85’ people in prison in England and Wales. In the past 20 years, the prison population has almost doubled, and the UK incarceration rate is now the highest in the whole of Western Europe.
The High Prison Population (the ‘Numbers Crisis’) I t is widely agreed – although perhaps not by all politicians – that the number of prisoners in England .
Rise in prison assaults, self-harm and drug seizures signals crisis Charity says statistics are result of austerity and government must invest in community alternatives in England .
Andrea Albutt believes ministers have failed to respond quickly enough to the prison safety crisis in England and Wales and blames ‘disinvestment’ for the problems. The principal reason is numbers. England and Wales went from almost 45, prisoners in to 85, two decades later - an increase of nearly 90%.
Justice and policing are devolved matters for Scotland and Northern Ireland. U K prisons are at crisis level, with a record deaths in prisons in the 12 months to March and a 92 per cent rise in the prison population in England and Wales since Watch the video above to learn more about the figures behind the crisis.