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30 Jan 2014

Prison assaults: The consequence of a dangerous gamble

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s safety in custody statistics, published today, Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

“In recent years, the government has taken a big gamble with public safety: cutting prison budgets without cutting prison numbers. This was always going to mean fewer staff in overcrowded prisons and fewer useful activities for prisoners, leaving them cooped up in cells all day with nothing to do. The shameful rise in assaults on staff and prisoners, as well as the increase in self-harm and prisoners taking their lives, is a direct consequence of this policy. To avoid our prisons spiralling dangerously out of control, the Ministry of Justice must now show bold leadership to reform sentencing and reduce the number of people held needlessly behind bar

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. Earlier this month, the Howard League revealed that there were more alleged homicides in prisons in England and Wales in 2013 than in any year since 1998. The number of self-inflicted deaths was at its highest level since 2007. See more details here.
  3. The Ministry of Justice’s report on safety in custody statistics can be read online here.

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