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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

May 18, 2009: Prison Violence Rising

Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform have revealed that recorded acts of violence in prisons have risen by 31% in the last five years. The figures show that self-harm, assaults and fires are all on the rise – with 180,000 acts committed over 5 years.

Young Offender Institutions and female prisons are particularly affected, with prisoner-on-prisoner assaults up by 58% in YOIs, and self-harm rising by 42% in women��s jails. There were almost 40,000 recorded acts of violence in English and Welsh prisons in 2008, more than 100 incidents a day. Between 2004 and 2008:

  • Prisoner-on-prisoner assaults rose by 36%, with a total of 56,517 incidents.
  • Prisoner-on-officer assaults increased by 6% overall, and by 12 % in female prisons. In total, prison officers were attacked 13,993 times by inmates.
  • Self-harm incidents went up by 25%, and by 42% in female prisons. There were 104,414 recorded incidents of self-injury, 54% of which were committed by women and girls. This is despite the fact that they comprise just 5% of the prison population.

Women’s prisons have seen the most dramatic increases in acts of violence, with a 42% rise in self-harm, a 12% rise in attacks on prison officers, and an 11% increase in prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and fires. Bronzefield, a privately run women’s prison saw a 300% rise in number of fires started between 2004 and 2008, and acts of arson in Holloway went up by 211%.

Young Offender Institutions, meanwhile, have seen violence amongst prisoners soar by 58%. The number of fires started in YOIs between 2004 and 2008 rose by 13%. Reading YOI saw a dramatic leap of 1200% in the number of fires started by young people within the prison walls. Four other YOIs suffered a rise of over 300% in fires. Prison officers in YOIs are now 3% more at risk of being attacked by prisoners than they were five years ago.

Howard League Director Frances Crook said:

“This shocking rise in violence is far above what might be expected as we lock up ever increasing numbers of men, women and children whose mental health problems and addictions will never be properly treated within our flooded and failing jails. As these are recorded statistics, it is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg with real levels of assaults, rapes and arson much higher than the Prison Service is admitting.”

"Overcrowded, squalid prison conditions lead to rioting, violence and chaos, which is dangerous for prisoners, staff and local communities. Prisons are awash with drugs, violence and arson and the government is planning to inflict all this on more local communities by building another five 1,500 place prisons."

"The answer to rising prison populations is not to build more failing jails, which churn out bitter and frightened prisoners into local communities, more damaged and dangerous from having spent time in our colleges of crime. It is time for the government to look at wholesale reform of the penal system. We should spend taxpayers' money on programmes that work in reducing offending and make society safer."

The Howard League figures quoted were obtained through Parliamentary Questions asked by Paul Holmes MP and James Gray MP from February and March 2009