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Mon, 1 June 2020

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Boris Johnson unveils £100m bid to stop prisons 'making bad people worse'

Boris Johnson unveils £100m bid to stop prisons 'making bad people worse'
3 min read

Boris Johnson has announced £100 million of funding as part of a bid to crack down on crime inside prisons.

The Prime Minister said the cash would go towards rolling out airport-style security, including X-ray scanners and metal detectors, in an effort to curb inmates' access to drugs, weapons and mobile phones.

But Labour warned that the money fell "woefully short" of what was needed to tackle spiralling prison violence.

Mr Johnson said the funding would take on "all types of crime", citing drug smugglers who fuel violence and self-harm, gangs who run external networks from prison, and offenders who contact their victims outside of the estates.

It will also be used in an effort to bolster protection for prison officers and to step up intelligence analysis in tackling corruption.

The Prime Minister said: "We cannot allow our prisons to become factories for making bad people worse.

“We will stop the drugs, weapons and the mobile phones coming in, so we can safeguard victims, protect staff, cut violence and make our prisons properly equipped to reform and rehabilitate.

“The public must see justice being done, punishment being served and feel protected.”

The funding comes after a string of announcements on shaking up the justice system, as Mr Johnson vowed to “come down hard on crime”.

On Sunday, the PM unveiled £2.5bn to fund 10,000 new prison places while giving the police the green light to ramp up stop-and-search powers.

He also ordered an urgent review of sentencing policy to ensure “the punishment must truly fit the crime”.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland added: “There is a direct link between crime on the wings and crime on our streets - it can no longer be assumed that prison walls are enough to stop organised criminals from continuing their operations.

“This funding will have a transformative effect on prisons and give our hard-working officers the advantage as they tackle this scourge head-on.

“By disrupting those who continue to offend behind bars, we can keep our staff and other prisoners safe, and make sure that prisons truly fulfil their purpose of protecting the public.”

But Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said: “These measures fall woefully short of what is needed to make our prisons safe. Faced with a prisons emergency caused by austerity, Boris Johnson is timidly tinkering at the edges.

“Reckless Tory cuts to staffing and budgets unleashed unprecedented levels of violence in our prisons.

“The Tories have slashed the prisons budget by hundreds of millions of pounds and there are still thousands fewer prison officers than when they came to power. 

“Our prisons have too few staff to safely manage the existing prison population, never mind any planned expansion.”

And the Liberal Democrats' justice spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said the pledge was "yet another hollow move by Boris Johnson to seem tough on crime".

She added: “The further funding announced is still not being used to rehabilitate people to stop them committing crimes in the first place.

“Boris Johnson can lock people up for longer or search people on their way in and out of prison, but none of this bravado will actually make our streets safer.”

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