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Governors blame Government for 'toxic mix' in UK prisons

Governors blame Government for 'toxic mix' in UK prisons
2 min read

Prison bosses have hit out at the Government for failing to address the “toxic” state of the country’s jails. 

Riot officers were sent to The Mount prison in Hertfordshire yesterday and on Monday, while there was a separate disturbance at Erlestoke in Wiltshire.

The recent cases come on the back of a consistent rise in suicides, assaults and self-harm among prisoners.

An open letter from Andrea Albutt, the president of the Prison Governors Association, said: “The recent increase in concerted indiscipline is of grave concern.”

“We know many prisons are in crisis and I deliberately use that term, because it can't be dressed up in any other way,” she added.

Ms Albutt argued that unexpected increases in the prison population, staffing pressures exacerbated by summer leave, and further cuts to capacity had left the system under stress.

She said governors’ protestations to the Ministry of Justice had been met with “nothing tangible… to ease the burden”.

There was further criticism of structural changes in the Government which separated out policy responsibilities from the operational team.

“This toxic mix does not have a quick fix and the future looks like more of the same,” she surmised.

An MoJ spokesman responded by defending the Government’s reform programme.

The spokesman said: “We know that our prisons have faced a number of long-standing challenges, which is why we have taken immediate action to boost prison officer numbers and have created Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service.

"We need to create calm and ordered environments to help ensure effective rehabilitation, and we continue to work closely with the unions and all staff to help achieve these vital reforms and make prisons places of safety and reform."

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