Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Prison News 2

He may not still be at the MoJ by the end of the week, but clearly Michael Gove hasn't got much option other than to get back to the day job of trying to deal with the mounting crisis posed by the prison system. Here's Alan Travis writing in the Guardian:- 

Gove responds after thousands of prison officers stage walkout

The justice secretary has acknowledged the scale of increasing violence inside prisons, as MPs heard today that five to six thousand prison officers protested against a rising tide of violence by staging walkouts last Friday at jails across England and Wales.

The unofficial action by members of the Prison Officers’ Association followed a 36% increase in assaults on staff – there were 5,500 last year – and led to the justice secretary, Michael Gove, answering an urgent Commons question on safety in prisons on Monday. The question was put by Labour’s Andy Slaughter, who accused Gove of having “gone absent” from the prisons crisis in recent weeks and warning him that unless he gripped it soon, “he is going to lose control fully of the prison estate”.

Slaughter quoted prison officers at Liverpool jail, where 100 staff walked out in an hour-long protest on Friday, as saying they had had more assaults on staff in the past 12 months than in the previous 12 years put together at the prison. “In the last year, there have been at least 20 staff assaults, including a member of staff who was stabbed – staff being spat on, punched and kicked. Also quite a few including having faeces and urine thrown over them,” Slaughter told MPs.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson described the walkouts as “unlawful action”, but acknowledged that they posed no security risk. Prison officers are banned from taking industrial action or going on strike.

In the Commons on Monday, Gove acknowledged the scale of increasing violence inside prisons across England and Wales and said he was determined to support prison staff. He also confirmed that moves were under way to try to reduce the 4,000 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for public protection, many of whom have served well beyond their recommended “tariff” date. Gove said he would meet the chairman of the parole board, Nick Hardwick, later this week to “expedite changes”.

The justice secretary said there was no single solution, but that a number of factors, including the changing nature of offenders being sent to jail, the widespread availability of new psychoactive substances, and boredom and a lack of any future for some prisoners, all played their part.

He said his prison reform programme, an urgent £10m injection into the jails to help with prison safety, the outlawing of new psychoactive substances and an “open door” to staff and their representatives could go some way to help alleviate the situation. He also recommended a technique known as the “five-minute intervention” to help staff de-escalate violent situations in prisons.

A former governor of Belmarsh and Dartmoor prisons, Claudia Sturt, has been put in charge of a taskforce that is working with prisons with the highest levels of violence.

Labour’s new shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said that the Prison Officers’ Association had held meetings to discuss what they describe as “perpetual crisis”. He questioned whether Gove’s new “reform prisons” would simply prove a prelude to privatisation with watered-down conditions for staff.


  1. Godbye Govey, The May Queen don't trust you.

    We ain't gonna get a General Election, so who are the likely candidates to replace Penfold... Greening? Rudd? Morgan? Villiers?

    Please NOT Priti Patel or Truss.

    But as suggested by Burgon, whoever it is will be carrying out a garage-sale of the justice system. G4s, get yer chequebook out - you're on!!

  2. Slight diversification - Privatisation is clearly the only way forward - even Paul Weller's sold out to MaccyD's. The world must surely be coming to an end! Still, that's entertainment I suppose.

    1. In the 1980s Weller was recorded as saying he voted Tory because "changing the world has become too fashionable". Each to their own, but I'm always surprised when people still refer to him as some kind of arch leftist. He did send his kids to expensive elitist private schools after all.

      Besides, a lot of his early stuff was less 'right on' than it was hollow and hokey sloganeering. "Whatever happened to the great empire / you lot have turned it into manure" being my favourite rhyme crime.

    2. Fair comment!

  3. Blimey, Theresa Mays hubby has tidied himself up since his Pretty Things days

    1. I must be one of the few survivors of the 60's who knows what you are talking about. I fell in love with bad boy Phil's beautiful long hair. I saw him in 1963/4 at Nle City Hall -or was it the Odeon.... - not many there and those that were, all clambered over the seats to stand in the first couple of rows! I've just You Tubed him and he still has that lovely smile, more than I can say about Mr Theresa May - god help that man, age 55 but looking older and less happy than 71 yr old rocker Phil..

  4. Chris Grayling hopes for great things to reward his loyalty and the brilliant coronation campaign
    How that man survived is beyond me,give the chaos he has caused the CJS

    1. Oi. Grayling a good boy

  5. And they want to place more Probation Officer's in Prison. That's going to be a really nice,safe environment!

  6. Penny wise Pound foolish.
    In my days in the Merchant Navy it was accepted that moral was greatly effected by the food. Seven day week watch keeping month in month out in a small environment is similar to being in prison.

    The rise in self harm and suicides in prison is directly correlated to the prison victualling allowance being cut to £2.07p per day. The NHS Allowance is £3.15p Per day, not wonderful, but at least in the hospital my wife was in she was able to choose Salmon and Cucumber sandwiches for dinner, I doubt salmon is ever on the menu in prison.

    The cost of raising the food budget to NHS levels would be £33 million, the savings from improved morale in prisons could easily be double that.

  7. Glad to see the back of Gove. Lol