Justice Secretary denies prison crisis

August 19, 2014 10:24 am

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has denied there is a crisis in British prisons. Grayling acknowledged that prisons in England and Wales face problems with violence, suicides and staff shortages but said outright there is “not a crisis in our prisons”.

It comes as a new report into the Isis young offenders institution has found “obvious tensions” between staff and prisoners due to the effect of staff shortages, with inmates allowed less time outside their cells. A recent report into Glen Parva young offenders institution in Leicestershire noted similar concerns and deemed the facility not safe, citing an increase in assaults, self-harm and suicide.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice published figures showing soaring levels of attacks and self-harm across young offenders and adult prisons, with self-inflicted deaths increased by 69 per cent.

The number of prison officers in England and Wales has been cut by 30 per cent in three years. And the rising prison population is undergoing a significant overcrowding crisis.

Alice at PSI: No doubt Grayling is under pressure to paint a different picture to that of Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, who described last month’s report into Glen Parva as sounding “more like an extract from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies than a report on an institution that is meant to help young people turn their lives around”. However, whether Grayling cares to use the term crisis or not, his department has some fast action to take before it’s beyond reasonable doubt, the blood is on their hands.

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