Violence Cut At 7/10 Prisons That Government Pledged To Improve

22 August 2019, 17:19

Assaults and drug use have dropped across 10 English prisons involved in a pilot scheme launched last year to tackle violence in troubled jails.
Assaults and drug use have dropped across 10 English prisons involved in a pilot scheme launched last year to tackle violence in troubled jails. Picture: PA

Levels of violence and drug taking have fallen since last year at seven of England's "most challenging" prisons, but three prisons the government pledged to improve have seen a rise in violence.

The 10 Prisons Project was a £10m campaign to turn around some of the most difficult jails through enhanced security, strong leadership and improved standards.

Statistics published today show an overall 16% reduction in assaults and a 50% reduction in positive drug tests across the 10 prisons.

HMP Lindholme and HMP Isis both saw a 46% reduction in assaults, while drug use fell by 84% at Lindholme and 78% at HMP Wealstun.

However, analysis by the charity Inquest suggests deaths increased across the prisons involved in the project.

Assaults increased in three of the most challenging jails, HMP Nottingham and Wormwood Scrubs and HMP Hull, and the proportion of positive drugs tests increased in HMP Leeds and HMP Nottingham.

HM Prison Nottingham saw increased levels of assault
HM Prison Nottingham saw increased levels of assault. Picture: PA

Labour criticised the pilot, pointing out that only seven of the ten jails saw a fall in assaults.

Measures taken in the project included new scanners, sniffer dogs and repairs to basic infrastructure.

Current prisons minister Lucy Frazer said the results were “encouraging” and that the government would continue its "relentless drive" to make prisons places of safety and rehabilitation.

Former minister Rory Stewart who introduced the project vowed to resign if the prisons did not improve.

However, Mr Stewart resigned as prisons minister in July anyway over Boris Johnson's Brexit plans, before the impact of the project on drugs and violence levels was known.

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