As­saults on staff rise at prison

Num­ber of deaths, as­saults and self harm in­ci­dents rise at HMP Peter­bor­ough

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - PT CAMPAIGN - By Stephen Briggs stephen.brigss@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTstephenB 01733 588734

As­saults on staff at HMP Peter­bor­ough have hit record lev­els it has been re­vealed.

In 2016 there were 154 as­saults on staff at the prison, the high­est num­ber recorded since the jail opened in Sav­ille Road, West­wood, in 2005. Fig­ures re­leased by the gov­ern­ment show of the 154 as­saults, 21 were graded as ‘se­ri­ous.’

There have also been a record num­ber of ‘pris­oner on pris­oner’ as­saults, with 419 recorded last year, with 60 graded as se­ri­ous.

The fig­ures also show self harm at the jail is at its high­est level since 2011, with 1485 in­ci­dents re­ported in 2016.

There were six deaths at the jail, a record num­ber, with three recorded as be­ing of nat­u­ral causes and one recorded as self in­flicted.

With the ex­cep­tion of self in­flicted deaths, which re­mained static at one, all cat­e­gories saw a rise com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year - with the num­ber of se­ri­ous as­saults on staff more than dou­bling.

In a separate Gov­ern­ment re­port, it was said the prison was meet­ing a ma­jor­ity of Gov­ern­ment tar­gets. The tar­gets were across prison life, and not just lim­ited to safety.

The pri­vately run prison is the only jail in the coun­try with both a male and a fe­male wing. It has an ‘oper­a­tion ca­pac­ity’ of 868 pris­on­ers.

In 2015 The Sodexo run jail was given a glow­ing re­port by Gov­ern­ment in­spec­tors - although con­cerns were raised about the num­ber of self in­flicted deaths. Safety at the prison was rated at the high­est level in the re­port.

An HMP Peter­bor­ough spokesper­son said a new strat­egy was be­ing im­ple­mented to make the prison as safe as pos­si­ble.

He said: “We are pleased to see HMP Peter­bor­ough broadly per­form­ing well against many Gov­ern­ment tar­gets. Un­for­tu­nately, there was an in­crease last year in as­saults and deaths last year which re­flects a wider trend across the prison es­tate.

“Safety is our top pri­or­ity, and we re­main fully com­mit­ted to our safer pris­ons poli­cies. We have also in­tro­duced a re­vised vi­o­lence re­duc­tion strat­egy.”

Peter­bor­ough MP Fiona Onasanya said: “It’s con­cern­ing that the staff in our pris­ons are sub­jected to poor con­di­tions which means not only are they ham­pered in do­ing their job, but it makes an un­safe en­vi­ron­ment for them­selves and the in­mates as we can see from the lat­est fig­ures. Cuts to ser­vice pro­vi­sion need to be re­versed so we can safely house in­mates and give staff the level of re­spect and cov­er­age they need to do their job and bring down th­ese rates of vi­o­lence.”

North West Cam­bridgeshire MP, and for­mer Courts Min­is­ter Shailesh Vara said: “Th­ese fig­ures make for very con­cern­ing read­ing. Nei­ther prison staff nor in­mates at HMP Peter­bor­ough or any other prison for that mat­ter, should have to fear for their safety. That is why action is be­ing taken by the Gov­ern­ment with £100 mil­lion be­ing in­vested to re­cruit 2,500 front­line staff – a tar­get which ap­pears to be on course to be achieved by De­cem­ber 2018. Ad­di­tion­ally, each prison in the UK has re­ceived £2 mil­lion of fund­ing for hand-held mo­bile phone de­tec­tors and 300 spe­cial­ist prison dogs have been trained to lo­cate drugs.

“En­sur­ing that HMP Peter­bor­ough has the right num­ber of skilled prison of­fi­cers and the right re­sources to ad­dress the root causes of vi­o­lence is key and the in­vest­ment be­ing put in by the Gov­ern­ment should go some way to help ad­dress the prob­lems.”

HMP Peter­bor­ough

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