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Magpie

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The following are excerpts from 'The Roof Comes Off', the report of the Independent Committee of Inquiry into the protests at Peterhead Prison.

 

 

'Peterhead isn't a prison - it's something other than a prison. I watch men drifting into insanity and no-one helps them. We, all of us are branded animals, dangerous psychos. We are being portrayed to the public in this fashion and the public should realise all this talk about nutters isn't true. After years of this misery i can honestly say the gates are opened and it's not human beings that walk out - it's 'creations'. No-one in here receives help. No-one should be allowed to enter into Society after suffering the fate of Peterhead Prison.' ( A Peterhead Prisoner)

 

 

Conclusion

 

In taking evidence from prisoners, their families and other outside agencies the Committee is in no doubt that physical brutality takes place in Peterhead. It is a matter of grave concern that 71% of the respondents to the questionnaire issued to prisoners stated that they have experienced brutality by prison staff and 62% stated that they have witnessed acts of brutality. Prison officers carry out such acts in circumstances (eg solitary confinement cells or isolated corridors) which make allegations difficult to substantiate. This, combined with the lack of proper and effective complaints procedure, makes it virtually impossible for prisoners to seek redress. Families wishing to see relatives after such a beating are usually prevented from doing so. This increases tension, bitterness and violence in prisoners who perceive a total lack of justice. Other grievances that they may have about the regime and their circumstances fall on deaf ears. The general feeling among prisoners is: 'Why bother?' reflecting their lack of faith in the official channels for complaint.

 

These conditions are magnified  by the sudden removal of the opportunity for early release on parole. The committee found that a lack of hope was commonplace. An important ingredient in igniting what we have described as a volatile situation is a poorly trained staff ill-equipped to deal with the complexities and needs of long-term prisoners. Little wonder then that the roof of Peterhead came off on the 9th November 1986.

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Hull Prison

Prisoners say they rioted in protest against prison staff brutality
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In Context
The inquiry into the disturbance found it to be the most serious incident "involving loss of control" since the Dartmoor prison mutiny in 1932.

Hull prison was put out of use for a year and the cost of repairing the damage was estimated to be £3-4 million pounds.

A single cause for the protest was not identified by the report, but instead blamed a culmination of events combined with a volatile mix of prisoners.


 


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Inmates keep phones in bowels in El Salvador jail

 Thursday September 7, 05:49 AM

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SAN SALVADOR - Four prisoners in an El Salvador jail hid cellphones, a phone charger and spare chips in their bowels so they could coordinate crimes from their cells, prison officials said on Wednesday.

The four men, all gang members, wrapped their phones and accessories in plastic and inserted them into their rectums "far enough to reach their intestines," Ramon Arevalo, director of the maximum security Zacatecoluca prison, said.

The men, members of the ultra-violent Mara Salvatrucha street gang and the first in El Salvador known to go to such lengths to make phone calls in jail, used the cellphones to manage robberies, blackmail and murders outside, Arevalo said.

The Zacatecoluca prison -- some 40 miles (64 km) east of the capital San Salvador and currently home to 337 inmates -- goes by the nickname "Zacatraz," after the famously secure U.S. island penitentiary Alcatraz.


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Belmarsh

Belmarsh

Belmarsh became operational on 2nd April 1991, and is a local prison, serving primarily the Central Criminal Court and it's feeder magistrates Courts in SE London. In addition the establishment serves Crown and Magistrates Courts in SW Essex. Belmarsh has a dual role in that it also holds Category A prisoners.

 

Address:
Western Way
Thamesmead
London
SE28 OEB

Tel: 020 8331 4400

Fax: 020 8331 4401

Governor: Claudia Sturt

Operational Capacity: 915 as of 1st September 2005


Accommodation: A mixture of approximately 60% multi occupancy cells and 40% single cells, distributed mainly across 4 residential units.

 

Reception criteria: In common with all other local prisons, Belmarsh accepts a wide variety of categories of prisoners, in addition to it's commitment to the Category A estate.


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The Times September 09, 2006

Corruption and drug dealing are rife among staff at seven prisons


A survey leaked to The Times reveals that at least 1,200 officers are in the pay of inmates

THERE are “sizeable corruption problems” in at least seven English jails named in a damning Prison Service report that says wrongdoing by staff is endemic and “may well be growing”.

Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham prisons and two jails in Kent and one in Cumbria are identified in the confidential study, which says that prisons for males in large cities are most at risk of corruption.

The review, by the Metropolitan Police and the prison service’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU), says that an internal database holds information about 3,507 prison staff suspected of misconduct.

A detailed analysis produced the conclusion that 1,272 was “the lowest likely number of corrupt staff currently operating within the service”.

One governor interviewed by the review team believed that each wing or section within every large, closed prison had “one trafficking member of staff to meet demand”.

A deputy governor described his prison as “one of the most corrupt in the country”. He said he knew the names of at least 25 corrupt staff at his jail but said that “there are many, many more”.

The study says that “a corruption cycle” had been identified within one prison, “whereby an officer would form a close relationship with a prisoner that involved supplying the prisoner with drugs and contraband”.

“The prisoner in turn would ‘supply’ to the rest of the wing. Both were able significantly to financially benefit as drugs inside this prison (a Category B local) sold for five times their street value and a mobile phone for £250 to £300.”

Over time, it is suggested that other prisoners tend to become jealous of the power exercised by the supplier. They pass information to honest officers, which leads to the removal of the corrupt member of staff. Another officer is then corrupted to fill the void.

The Times has obtained a copy of the study, which led Home Office officials — when it was partially leaked in July — to dispute the alleged extent of corruption within prisons.

A government spokesman suggested then that much of the evidence was anecdotal and that the figure of 1,272 “should not be interpreted as confirmed cases”. The report, however, states that “it is logical to estimate that, if the service has intelligence suggesting well over a thousand, the actual number acting in this way may be considerably higher”.

Evidence in the study, which was given the codename Operation Patella, includes interviews with three senior managers of the PSU, which was established in 2002 to collect and analyse intelligence on misconduct by prison staff.

One manager stated: “The big local prisons are the worst, Swaleside (Kent), Liverpool, Birmingham, Maidstone (Kent), Nottingham, Haverigg (Cumbria), Manchester — all these have real and sizeable corruption problems. I suspect all London prisons will be the same.”

The report concluded that corruption tended to be highest in large male prisons situated in depressed inner cities, where local recruitment was “a significant factor influencing the prevalence of staff corruption”. It is also claimed that suspected cases of corruption are severely under-reported to the PSU. It highlights two reasons — “the service’s perceived lack of protection for whistleblowers and the prevalence of a grassroots culture of misguided loyalty that places allegiance to colleagues before integrity”.

Those in authority at individual prisons are also failing to send intelligence to the PSU. The report states: “Many matters never reach the PSU, remaining in ‘bottom drawers’, ‘governors’ safes’ or ‘too difficult trays’.”

The study, which was led by Peter Siddons, the head of the PSU, and Detective Inspector Joanathan Cox, of the Metropolitan Police, found that the trafficking of drugs and mobile phones were the most common forms of corruption in prisons.

Actions that were to be regarded as corrupt, for the purposes of the joint study, must “amount to substantive criminal offences”, including perverting the course of justice, bribery, blackmail, malfeasance and drug trafficking.

GOVERNORS' VIEWS

‘For every corrupt officer that we are aware of I suspect there are four others. I’d like to say that only 1 per cent of my staff are corrupt, that is to say 10, but to do so would mean that 99 per cent are honest and I know that’s simply not true’

Governor of a Category B local prison

‘(Here corruption is) endemic . . . one of the most corrupt in the country. I have identified 25 corrupt staff but there are many, many more’

Deputy governor of a Category B local prison

‘I currently have 10 corrupt staff and I am managing the risk they pose to our organisation. I would be surprised if the actual number (of corrupt staff) wasn’t twice that’

Governor of a high-security prison

24,000 prison officers work in 127 prisons housing 67,000 inmates

Figures for England and Wales only

  • A prison officer who smuggled drugs and a mobile phone to a convicted murderer with whom she had struck up a relationship was jailed yesterday for 16 months.

    A judge at Preston Crown Court told Kate Roberts, 28, from Rochdale, who worked at Garth jail in Leyland, Lancashire, that she had “gone over to the other side”.

  • ------------------------------------------

    The Times September 09, 2006




    Prison take

    Corruption threatens the foundations of the criminal justice system


    One institution in whose dank confines the international drugs trade thrives is the British Prison Service. According to a detailed and damning report by the Metropolitan Police and the Prison Service’s own professional standards unit (PSU), drugs routinely change hands throughout the prison system for up to five times their street value. They are the chief commodity channelled to jail populations by corrupt prison staff who also sell mobile phones for up to £300 per handset and take substantial bribes for helping inmates to move to less secure facilities.

    Prison corruption can seem a remote concern to the law-abiding majority. It is not. There is strong evidence, first, that it is endemic. Countering the claims of some governors and union officials who have consistently understated the problem, the report describes how every wing of every major closed prison typically has one trafficking member of staff to meet inmate demand. The identity of that trafficker may change over time, but the report insists that its estimate of more than 1,200 corrupt staff in the system is, if anything, conservative.

    It is certainly alarming. Reliable data on corruption is necessarily scarce because those involved are often adept at hiding it. But even if a deep-seated culture of corruption in fact exists only in London’s prisons and seven other large institutions specified by the PSU, that culture is already undermining rehabilitation efforts and boosting recidivism rates for tens of thousands of prisoners. More broadly, it mocks a criminal justice system that has so far failed properly to acknowledge or confront it.

    There is, to the contrary, little doubt that in the past the Prison Service has actually encouraged corruption by turning a blind eye to drug use in the belief that it made dangerous inmates easier to handle. More recently, policies of local recruitment and fostering good staff-inmate relations have created a pool of staff especially vulnerable to being “turned” by drug gangs — and by the prospect of doubling their annual pay with a few smuggled packages of heroin.

    The Home Office responded yesterday to the PSU report by calling the existence of a culture of prison corruption “unlikely” while regretting that criminal collusion between staff and inmates was inevitable in the “closed world” of the jail system. Yet this world should not be closed, and Phil Wheatley’s first responsibility as the Director-General of the Prison Service is to be open about a problem that has taken six years to bring to light.

    His service should then incorporate explicit anti-corruption language into its codes of conduct; establish a new investigative body separate from the police; and institute new safeguards for whistle-blowers, who are particularly vulnerable to intimidation and much worse. Prison corruption is only “inevitable” if the potential gain for staff outweighs the risk. The gap between the two can and must be narrowed. Prisons will be safer as a result, and so will the communities outside them.

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    RELATED STORIES
      August 15 2006
    Prison staff vote for strike action

      August 15 2006
    Prison suspends 14 staff accused of smuggling drugs and phones

      August 14 2006
    Prison officers suspended over corruption claims

      August 01 2006
    1,000 jail staff taking bribes from inmates, says inquiry

      July 31 2006
    Corruption 'rife' among prison staff, says report

      July 25 2006
    Wisdom of fewer prisons

      July 22 2006
    Bijou cells with a view up for £160m

      July 21 2006
    Finding room in prisons

      July 20 2006
    Reid dismantles last year's justice reforms

      July 19 2006
    New jails for 8,000 prisoners to deal with overcrowding

      July 15 2006
    Sex offender bailed because prisons full

      June 30 2006
    Whitehall frantic as jails fill to bursting


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    14 September 2006
    BLAIR PAL IN BLAST OVER GUANTANAMO...

    TONY Blair's closest Cabinet ally has condemned Guantanamo Bay as a "shocking affront to democracy".

    Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, delivered the Government's most damning criticism ever of US President George Bush.

    Speaking to fellow lawyers in Australia, the peer said: "The USA deliberately seeking to put the detainees beyond the reach of the law is a shocking affront to the principles of democracy."

    Bush announced last week that suspects linked to the September 11 attacks were being transferred from secret CIA jails around the world to the base on the US-controlled tip of Cuba.

    Falconer's criticism came after it was revealed a Briton was kept in solitary confinement for a year, including three months without any sunlight, and another was regularly beaten, according to their lawyer.

    Blair has been more muted about Guantanamo, simply calling it an "anomaly".

    But yesterday, the PM launched a scathing attack on "mad" anti-Americanism among European politicians.

    He said: "The strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in.

    "The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is if they decide to disengage.

    "We want them engaged. None of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them."

     

    **********************************************

     

    14 September 2006
    JAIL'S 1ST LADY BOSS...

    THE jail where Scotland's worst sex beasts are caged is to get its first female boss.

    Audrey Mooney, 51, is taking charge of Peterhead prison.

    She is moving from Craiginches jail in Aberdeen, where she has been in charge for five years.

    Recently saved from closure, Peterhead holds 300 inmates including sex offenders such as limbs-in-the-loch killer William Beggs and disgraced cop Adam Carruthers.


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    16 September 2006
    YOU PAY £58M BILL FOR SLOPPING OUT FIASCO
     

    TAXPAYERS could have to fork out up to £58million in payouts and legal costs for prisoners forced to slop out in Scotland's jails.

    The Executive and the Scottish Prison Service yesterday said they have set aside an extra £9million on last year's sum to cover bills.

    Other cases which could arise over alleged breaches of the European human rights convention could cost £27million - up £3million on last year's estimate.

    The figures were revealed as bosses said they would offer cash to up to 300 lags who "doubled up" - shared cells - and had to empty chamber pots.

    The move follows the £2450 award to armed robber Robert Napier two years ago. He slopped out at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.

    It is understood the offer tabled yesterday involves a similar amount and could cost up to £735,000.

    The SPS - left with a £1.5million legal bill from fighting Napier are contesting a further 1100 cases involving prisoners in single cells going through the courts.

    Many of those actions are awaiting a Court of Appeal ruling on whether they were launched too late as actions normally have to be raised within a year.

    Slopping out is now confined to 350 prisoners at two jails.

    Polmont Young Offenders' Institution is due to end it next year, while prisoners at Peterhead use chemical toilets because its granite structure makes modern plumbing difficult.

    Napier's solicitor Tony Kelly said: "This is a vindication for all the prisoners who raised actions about slopping out.

    "It has been a long, hard slog against a Government that has treated its citizens in an inhumane, degrading fashion within their prisons.

    "The Government had every opportunity to do something about slopping out and chose not to.

    "Seven years down the line, the taxpayers are footing the bill for the Government's inappropriate choices."

    Tory justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "Taxpayers have to pay twice - once to end slopping out and then even more to pay compensation to prisoners."

    SNP justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill said: "This is an appaling mess entirely of the Labour-led Executive's creation.

    "They were warned what would happen and have repeatedly failed to act."

    The SPS yesterday admitted slopping out in "doubled up" cells breached prisoners' rights.

    A spokesman added: "We will continue to contest any claims brought by prisoners alleging a breach of their human rights as a result of slopping out in single cell accommodation."

    Doubled up slopping out was phased out in February last year.

     

    ***************************************

    Slopping out is the emptying of buckets of human waste when the cells are unlocked in prisons in the morning. Inmates without a toilet in the cell have to use a bucket or chamber pot while locked in during the night. The reasons that some cells do not have toilets is because they are easily smashed; to prevent this metal toilets have to be installed, but they are expensive.

    In the United Kingdom, slopping out was supposed to have been phased out, but some prisons have not been able to afford to.


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    Jail branded 'Scotland's worst'
    Peterhead Prison
    The future of Peterhead Prison remains unclear
    Inmates in Peterhead Prison are living with the "disgrace" of slopping out amid the worst conditions of any Scottish jail, a report has concluded.

    The chief inspector of prisons said it was Scotland's only prison where slopping out was usual practice.

    Dr Andrew McLellan also warned that sending Peterhead's sex offenders back into the community without preparatory supervision was not ideal for safety.

    However, he said relationships between staff and prisoners were good.

    Its [slopping out] continuation in Peterhead remains a disgrace. It is the worst single feature of prisons in Scotland
    Dr Andrew McLellan
    Chief inspector of prisons

    Dr McLellan said: "Prisoners in Peterhead are living in the worst conditions in any prison in Scotland.

    "The ending of slopping out in several prisons in the last two years has been welcomed in reports.

    "Its continuation in Peterhead remains a disgrace. It is the worst single feature of prisons in Scotland."

    He also commented that every prisoner in Peterhead was a sex offender who, when released into the community, generated the greatest public anxiety, yet were the worst prepared for release.

    "Sending sex offenders straight back into the community at the end of their sentences without any preparatory supervision in the community is not a good recipe for safety," he added.

    Positives included the use of drugs was very limited and that food and visiting arrangements consistently received high marks from prisoners.

    Complaining prisoners

    Dr McLellan noted a large number of complaints about the prison were made by a small number of prisoners.

    He added: "The inspection report of 2004 made clear that uncertainty over the prison's future was as great as ever. Now the demoralising effect of uncertainty has continued for another year.

    "A consultation on the future of Peterhead concluded in November 2005 and there has still been no announcement.

    "That is bad for those who want to attract capital investment, bad for staff morale and, sooner or later, it will be bad for prisoners."


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    25 October 2006
    CON FLED PRISON TO ESCAPE DRUGS

    A CON fled from an open jail less than three hours after being sent there - because he feared being drawn into the drug scene.

    A court heard yesterday that career criminal Patrick Smith simply walked out of Castle Huntly prison, near Dundee, after the head count.

    And he knew he would be sent back to a maximum security jail, where drugs were harder to obtain.

    Billy Somerville, defending, told Perth Sheriff Court that Smith, 27, from Glasgow, had tried to kick his drug habit.

    But he was aware of how easy it was to get drugs within Castle Huntly and did not want to come under pressure to return to his old ways.

    Smith, serving two years and 10 months for housebreaking and drug offences, was transferred there on October 18, but fled after the final head count at 9pm.

    Sheriff Edward Savage yesterday added two months to his sentence.

    At the same court, James Watson, 27, of Methilhill, Fife, also admitted fleeing Castle Huntly in October and going on the run for two weeks.

    Defending, Mr Somerville said: "He felt he was being pressurised and bullied into taking drugs.

    "They are far more available there than at Low Moss."

    Sheriff Savage added two months to Watson's two-year and 15-month sentence.


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    31 October 2006
    9 MONTHS FOR COURT ROOF SIT-IN

    A PRISONER hid in roof space above his cell and refused to come out until cops promised he could go to Barlinnie rather than Kilmarnock jail.

    A Sheriff heard Joseph Breslin staged the ventilation shaft sit-in because he was scared to return to the Ayrshire prison.

    A police public order unit and a trained negotiator were sent to the incident at Paisley Sheriff Court in August, where the 26-year-old had just been sentenced to six months for a motoring offence.

    Depute fiscal Sarah Healing said that after he was taken to the court's cells to await transportation to prison, he became "unhappy at the prospect" of being sent to Kilmarnock.

    Breslin and two other men - Robert Crawford, 21, and Andrew Browne, 18 - were originally charged with climbing into the roof area in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

    Not guilty pleas from Crawford and Browne were accepted.

    Breslin, of Millarston Avenue, Paisley, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, breach of the peace and causing alarm and annoyance.

    The court was told the stand-off lasted almost three hours.

    Claims that Breslin felt under threat if returned to Kilmarnock prison were investigated and it was discovered there was "some substance" to them and he was in fear of a "very violent individual" being held there.

    The court heard he felt he'd be "put at risk" if he was sent to the jail and "totally freaked out".

    Since the sit-in, Breslin has been serving his six-month term and was due for release next week.

    But Sheriff Susan Sinclair yesterday jailed him for another nine months, to run from the end of his current sentence.


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    Jail overcrowding 'being tackled'
    Prison cell
    Prisoner numbers have grown by 10% in the past four years
    The justice minister has said action is being taken to tackle overcrowding in Scotland's jails after a damning report by the chief inspector of prisons.

    Cathy Jamieson said there had been record investment in the prison estate and an expansion of community sentences to help reduce the prison population.

    Dr Andrew McLellan said jails were "bursting at the seams".

    He suggested the use of amnesties, waiting lists and weekend imprisonment to reduce overcrowding.

    In 2004-05 the daily average prison population was 6,779 against a design capacity of 6,396.

    In his annual report, Dr McLellan said not enough was being done to tackle overcrowding.

    Drugs problem

    He highlighted a "striking rise" in the number of prisoners under 21 and the number of women being locked up in 2005-2006.

    "Nothing has been more frustrating in the writing of annual reports in 2003, 2004, 2005 and now 2006 than finding new ways to express the damage done to Scotland's prisons by overcrowding," he said.

    "Nothing is more illustrative of the powerlessness of the chief inspector of prisons to make any real difference where it matters most."

    Overcrowding was worsening the drugs problem in jails and the situation was now so bad that the addition of every new prisoner made conditions worse for others, he said.

    "When I was appointed to this office in October 2002, I was told that the plan was to build two new prisons; and that a decision on the future of Peterhead would be made soon, with the possibility that that might lead to a third new prison," he said.

    Dr Andrew McLellan
    Dr McLellan criticised the imprisonment of minors

    "Four years later the position is that no new prisons have been built, that the plan is still to build two new prisons, and that a decision will soon be made on the future of Peterhead."

    He cited the most "disappointing" aspect of this year's report as the rise in the number of children in Scotland's prisons, some as young as 14.

    Dr McLellan said there were five ways to improve the situation: building more prisons; rethinking sentencing; capping prisoner numbers; reducing reoffending and reducing crime.

    He warned that the public must take his suggestions for waiting lists or amnesties seriously, as they were made in the context of the "huge damage" which overcrowding causes.

    Ms Jamieson said: "I welcome the chief inspector's report which highlights the continuing challenges for the prison estate, but also recognises real progress made."

    The Scottish National Party described the report as a "damning indictment" of the Scottish Executive's "flawed" prison policy.

    Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said people in Scotland, particularly victims of crime, would be aghast at the proposal for waiting lists.


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    2 November 2006
    PUT CONS ON WAITING LIST FOR PRISON...

    JAILS should operate waiting lists to cut overcrowding, Scotland's chief prisons inspector said yesterday.

    Scotland's jails would be banned from taking prisoners if they were full, under plans backed by the inspector, Dr Andrew McLellan.

    Convicted criminals would be placed on waiting lists if there were no places available when they were sentenced. They would receive a letter from the Scottish Prison Service ordering them to report to jail when a place became free.

    In another move, McLellan called for "amnesties" to free up places.

    Low-risk prisoners nearing the end of their sentence could be let out early to create anew place and keep the waiting lists down.

    McLellan also urged ministers to look at "weekend prisons" - offenders would be locked up on Saturday and Sunday but have a job in the week.

     

    He made the call as he unveiled his annual report on the state of Scotland's jails.

    He said radical action was needed to tackle chronic overcrowding.

    Scottish Tories last night slammed his plans as "unbelievable".

    But former Kirk Moderator McLellan said: "Among strategies adopted in other countries are waiting lists, weekend imprisonment and amnesties.

    "None of these is popular, even when restricted to those who have committed the least serious offences. But overcrowding should not be popular either.

    "It is important my suggestions about alternatives are heard in the context of the huge damage that overcrowding does.

    "I'm trying to redress the balance. People don't realise the damage overcrowding does and they think it's a safe option.

    "It's not. I think the possibility of some non-violent prisoners having to wait a few weeks before going into prison might be better for public safety than continually cramming prisoners together in prisons that are not fit to hold them.

    "I do think it's something that Scottish ministers should examine. I believe overcrowding is immensely damaging."

    His ideas came from visits to jails in Norway and Sweden, where overcrowding is illegal.

    Scotland's jails have places for 6396 but hold 6779 inmates each day on average. On some days, the figure is as high as 7300.

    Overcrowding tends to be concentrated in a small number of halls in certain prisons.

    It means many remand and short-term prisoners are held in halls which are 50 per cent over capacity.

    McLellan said overcrowding was the biggest factor preventing jails from turning cons away from crime.

    He said: "Overcrowding makes everything worse for everybody.

    "It makes things much worse for staff who simply can't spend the time they should be spending with prisoners because there are so many.

    "It makes things worse for prisoners who share cells and spend long periods of time locked up.

    "And worst of all, it makes things worse for all five million people in Scotland because it prevents prisons from doing what they should bedoing to reduce reoffending.

    "There is always someone ahead of prisoners in the queue for education and they have to wait a long time for programmes to address reoffending."

    McLellan's report came a day after Executive figures showed the number of convicted offenders who go on to commit further offences was continuing to rise.

    Forty-five per cent of all convicted criminals reoffended within two years. For ex-inmates leaving jail, the figure rose to two thirds.

    McLellan said the figures were "disappointing".

    Last night, Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said she was concentrating on increasing community punishment as a way of cutting prison numbers.

    She also said prison conditions were being improved.

    Scots Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: "People throughout Scotland, particularly victims of crime and their families, will be aghast at this proposal.

    "There can be no such thing as a waiting list or waiting times for prison.

    "If this is a serious proposal by the inspector, which he genuinely believes the Scottish Executive will entertain, then it is crystal clear that the Scottish Executive has run up the white flag on any sensible system of criminal justice.

    "A criminal justice system where the sentencing policy is made to fit the number of places available and not the number of criminals that need to be in prison is ridiculous.

    "Our criminal justice system has shifted from serving victims and protecting communities to allowing convicted criminals to laugh at the law. This must stop."

    The Scottish Prison Service said new prisons planned for Addiewell, West Lothian, and on the site of HMP Low Moss, near Glasgow, would help tackle overcrowding.

    9 OVERCROWDING EVILS

    Prison staff have less time to deal with vulnerable prisoners

    It increases the availability of drugs, since there are more people who want drugs and prison staff have less time to search

    It increases the likelihood of cell-sharing

    It increases noise and tension

    Prisoners have less access to staff and staff have less time for prisoners

    Resources are more stretched

    Facilities, such as the laundry and the kitchen, are stretched

    Prisoners spend more time in cells

    Family contact and visits are restricted.

     

    ************************************************

     

    2 November 2006
    TACKLE POVERTY TO REDUCE THE NUMBERS...

    CHIEF prisons inspector Andrew McLellan insists tackling poverty is key to cutting prison numbers.

    He pointed to a shocking report last year which highlighted the links between poverty and prisoners.

    The study, by former Barlinnie governor Roger Houchin, found a quarter of Scotland's prisoners came from just 53 out of 1200 council wards.

    These tended to be among the poorest places.

    Royston in Glasgow, Craigmillar in Edinburgh, Woodside in Aberdeen and Hill town in Dundee contributed the most from those cities. In one part of Glasgow, one in nine 23-year-old men was in prison.

    Of the 53 worst wards, Glasgow had 35, Edinburgh eight, Aberdeen three and Dundee two.

    There was one each in East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire. The study showed there were 269 districts which sent no one to jail.

    On average, there were 129 prisoners per 100,000 of the population. But in the richest council wards, the figure was 40 - compared to 950 in the poorest.

    Dr McLellan said: "Only when we transform life for our poorest young men will overcrowding in our prisons disappear."

    He also criticised the amount spent on inmates' food. He said the budget of £1.57 per head a day had not increased for 10 years.

    And he said cons complained they got "less meat in the stew".


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    3 November 2006
    NO TO JAIL QUEUES...

    FIRST Minister Jack McConnell yesterday ruled out introducing waiting lists for jails.

    His comments came after HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Dr Andrew McLellan suggested queuing could be brought in to tackle overcrowding.

    McConnell was challenged at Holyrood by Tory leader Annabel Goldie over the suggestion after she claimed Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson had said she would not make criminals queue "at this time".

    She added: "Can the First Minister please rule out this idea immediately for all time?"

    McConnell said: "There are absolutely no plans whatsoever to implement this recommendation from the Inspector of Prisons."

     

    ferrisconspiracy VIEW: Then why have an Inspector of Prisons if you do not implement his recommendations?


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    Just 11 guards for 1,500 Scottish prisoners 

    • Professor says current staff levels breach human rights and health law
    • Scotland's most dangerous prison has only 11 guards per 1,500 inmates
    • Executives sets aside £58m for compensation, but it may not be enough

    Key quote "If there was a riot there could be dozens of prisoners and officers affected and they could sue. When there is over-crowding and doubling-up in cells, the possibility of violence increases. You are talking about people suing because of injuries or loss of life" - John Scott, Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland chairman

    Story in full SCOTTISH taxpayers will face a multi-million-pound compensation bill because of chronic overcrowding and staff shortages in the country's jails, lawyers and academics have warned.

     

    Professor Andrew Coyle, a former prison governor in Scotland and director of the International Centre for Prison Studies in London, said current staffing levels are breaching human rights laws and health and safety legislation, which could see ministers being sued by both inmates and prison officers.

    The warning comes as a Scotsman investigation reveals that the country's jails are operating with fewer than 100 prison officers on nightshift to guard more than 7,000 inmates. Figures obtained by this newspaper show that the country's biggest jail - Barlinnie, home to some of the nation's most dangerous prisoners - has a ratio of just 11 officers supervising up to 1,500 inmates.

    Prof Coyle said: "There is a balance in prison and beyond that it becomes unsafe. They could be open to legal action because they are breaching the European Convention on Human Rights. An argument could be made to say the staffing levels breach the right to life."

    Experts said the Scottish Executive has left itself open to legal action that could dwarf the £58 million figure set aside for the recent "slopping out" cases.

    Figures seen by The Scotsman suggest that Perth jail is operating with a nightshift of just five officers for more than 500 prisoners, Glenochil has ten officers for 500 prisoners and Inverness has just six officers with 143 prisoners. Kilmarnock, Scotland's only private prison, is understood to operate with seven staff at night to guard 592 inmates. The Scotsman has also learned that emergency cover has been cut at a number of jails, including Glenochil and Perth.

    John Scott, chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland, said the Executive was extremely vulnerable to legal action and individual damages claims could run to tens of thousands of pounds. He said the value of claims would be "significantly higher" than that of slopping out. "These officer numbers for nightshift do not even amount to a skeleton staff. The European Court would be very sympathetic to a claim," he said.

    "If there was a riot there could be dozens of prisoners and officers affected and they could sue. When there is over-crowding and doubling-up in cells, the possibility of violence increases. You are talking about people suing because of injuries or loss of life."

    Clive Fairweather, the former chief inspector of Scotland's prisons, said a marked reduction in emergency staff available on nightshift left the Executive open to damages claims. "Any legal action could easily swamp the slopping-out bill," he said.

    "For Scotland's largest jail to have just 11 prison officers on nightshift is amazing. These prisoners are banged up for more than 12 hours a day and everyone knows that trouble flares up at night."

    Jim Dawson, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers' Association (Scotland), said he was deeply concerned.

    "Staffing levels are down to the bare bones and places like Aberdeen are working at 156 per cent capacity.

    "If we had a riot in Barlinnie, Edinburgh or Glenochil, we had a large pool of staff to cope with it. We no longer have that amount of staff," he warned.

    A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "A lot of this will have to be tested in court."

    Failing to add up

    Prison: Barlinnie

    No. of prisoners: 1,500
    Night-duty officers: 11

    Prison: Perth

    No. of prisoners: 500
    Night-duty officers: 5

    Prison: Inverness

    No. of prisoners: 143
    Night-duty officers: 6

    Prison: Kilmarnock

    No. of prisoners: 592
    Night-duty officers: 7

    Glenochil Young Offenders Institution has ten officers for 500 inmates

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