Six-fold increase in assaults inside Winchester jail

Six times more assaults were recorded in Winchester Prison last year than five years ago
Six times more assaults were recorded in Winchester Prison last year than five years ago
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SIX times more assaults were recorded in Winchester jail last year than five years ago.

Prison reform campaigners have declared the situation a ‘national emergency’.

The rise in attacks on staff and prisoners, revealed in figures from the Ministry of Justice, shows the scale of the task prison officers are facing.

Of the 369 assaults recorded in 2017, 170 were on prison staff. And 32 assaults were defined as serious, a category which includes sexual assaults and those where victims required hospital in-patient treatment.

In 2012, 60 assaults were recorded, meaning a five-year increase of 515 per cent.

The numbers also reveal that 474 cases of self-harm were recorded in Winchester last year, compared to just 151 in 2012.

As reported, a coroner said she had ‘grave concerns’ after an inquest jury concluded there were serious failings amounting to neglect relating to the death of Gosport remand prisoner Daryl Hargrave who died in 2015.

Two self-inflicted deaths were recorded in Winchester in 2017, which can include suicides and accidental deaths through self-harm.

Across prisons in England and Wales, nearly 30,000 assaults were recorded last year, more than double the number in 2012.

Self-harm also increased by 92 per cent over the same five-year period, with nearly 45,000 cases in 2017.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘This shameful rise in violence and self-injury is the direct result of policy decisions to allow the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked while starving prisons of resources.

‘This is a national emergency, and the government must respond boldly and urgently.

‘Positive steps to reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff, and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime and despair.’

Justice secretary David Gauke said: ‘The levels of violence, suicide and self-harm in our prisons are far too high and we are taking urgent action to address these problems. Assaults on our hardworking staff will never be tolerated.

‘We are ensuring prison officers have the tools they need to do the job, rolling out body worn cameras, “police-style” handcuffs and restraints, and trialling PAVA incapacitant spray.’

He said 3,111 extra prison officers will soon be in place.