0346 GMT February 29, 2020
Rory Stewart, prisons minister, announced a package of measures designed to lift standards at the 10 jails, which have ‘acute’ problems, saying the project will pave the way for a ‘new ethos’ across the estate in England and Wales, theguardian.com reported.
About £6 million has been earmarked to bolster physical security with drug-detection dogs, body-scanners and improved perimeter defenses, while £3 million has been set aside to improve the fabric of the jails such as mending broken windows.
The third strand of the drive will see £1 million spent on bespoke training programs to help staff deal with violent and disruptive behavior.
Stewart said, “With more than 20,000 prison officers, 84,000 prisoners and over 100 prisons, it is vital we set challenging standards so prisons are places where offenders can turn their lives around.
“We need to make these prisons calmer, more orderly places and in the end that comes down to challenging and managing prisoners consistently, firmly and fairly.”
The 10 prisons selected for the program are Hull, Humber, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, Isis and Wormwood Scrubs.
The Ministry of Justice said these jails had struggled with problems such as high drug use, violence and building issues.
Officials said the scheme would be up and running in all 10 prisons by the end of the year, with ‘tangible results’ within 12 months.
It is the latest in a string of steps aimed at tackling the safety crisis that has gripped the prisons system in recent years.
Figures published last month showed self-harm incidents and assaults in jails were at record levels, while finds of drugs and mobile phones increased by 23 percent and 15 percent respectively in the year to March.
Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said, “The governors of the 10 prisons will be pleased to have a little more money, wherever it comes from.”
He said Stewart “must concentrate on the job only he can do — matching the demands on the system to the resource parliament is prepared to make available for it”.
“It was a catastrophic failure to provide that balance which caused the collapse of prison safety after 2012 — trying to tell governors how to run prisons is not going to put it right,” Dawson added.