‘Deep Crisis’ in British Prisons as Use of Force Against Inmates Doubles

The use of force against inmates has doubled over the past decade, amid continuing concern over high levels of violence and disorder in prisons. A loss of experienced prison staff, overcrowding and a subsequent growth in violence against both prisoners and staff has been blamed for force being used 49,111 times in England and Wales in the 12 months before the Covid pandemic began. According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, force was used 59.1 times per 100 inmates in the year from April 2019. The last such figures, published in 2011-12, showed force used about 27 times per 100 prisoners.

Experts said the findings reflected the disorder inside a UK prison system described as in “deep crisis” last year by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, part of the Council of Europe. It said the jails it visited were “violent, unsafe and overcrowded”. Nick Davies of the Institute for Government thinktank said the use of force was further evidence of drastically declining standards: “Deep cuts to prison funding and staff numbers in the first half of the last decade were followed by big increases in incidents of assault, self-harm and poor prisoner behaviour, and reduced opportunities for rehabilitation. “Funding injections in recent years have stabilised the system but there is a long way to go to return prisons to where they were. The government’s criminal justice reforms could see the prison population reaching record levels, and it’s unclear whether planned new prisons will be ready in time to safely house additional inmates.”

Read more: Michael Savage, Guardian, https://is.gd/s6wpnV

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