The Socialist

The Socialist 15 February 2017

March to save our NHS

The Socialist issue 936

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Prison deaths scandal: invest in better inmate and staff conditions

Prison officers and inmates are in danger because of cuts, photo West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)

Prison officers and inmates are in danger because of cuts, photo West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

'Chris Miller', Prison officer and POA union rep

The latest government statistics show yet another record high in prison deaths and violence. In fact the annual rate of deaths in custody, many of them self-inflicted, has doubled since 2012.

It is no coincidence that 2012 was the year that preceded the woeful "competition benchmarking" programme - a cost-cutting exercise that saw a 30% reduction in prison officers nationally.

Historically prison officers have been very skilled at identifying those at risk of self-harm or suicide. This was because officers had the time, resources and experience when it came to building professional relationships with prisoners.

Personal officer schemes, where an officer was the first point of contact for a small number of prisoners, were fit for purpose and in place up and down the country.

However, these schemes were removed under benchmarking. Where a lack of proper resourcing occurs - the majority of establishments - this results in unsafe regimes and a toxic mix of drug and gang-fuelled violence.

Staffing is not the only contributing factor, of course.

Prisons are flooded with men, women and children who require the treatment and intervention that only a secure hospital can provide. But with very limited beds available in these facilities, they are dumped into the prison system - where prison officers receive no specific training in how to care for them.

Prisoners are also, at times, left in cells for 23 hours a day, with no power or without a flushable toilet - while privatised maintenance providers ensure every nut and bolt is billed to the tax payer before repairs commence.

And their medical needs are left at the mercy of privatised healthcare providers.

Some of the system's most violent and vulnerable prisoners are located at HMP Grendon. Grendon suffers very few of the issues mentioned, as it is a highly funded therapeutic community which takes a multidisciplinary approach to tackling violence and self-harm. Staff at Grendon are highly trained and in sufficient numbers.

The government, which seems not to have answers in dealing with the prison crisis, could start by looking there - if it was serious about reducing prison deaths and violence, or enhancing rehabilitation.


In this issue


What we think

Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels


Socialist Party news and analysis

March to save #OurNHS

Resist Trump and his rotten policies: why I'm walking out on 'Day X'

Socialist Students: growing, brimming with confidence

Thousands march to defend Glenfield heart centre

Save child refugees, fight the cuts

Prison deaths scandal

Super-rich subsidised


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: clear win for left at Podemos conference!

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria - towards unification

Izquierda Revolucionaria central committee meeting

French presidential election

France: police attack triggers protests

Yemen solidarity


Workplace news and analysis

United fightback needed as entire grade of rail worker is at stake

"Disgraceful" treatment of sacked EHRC workers

Vibrant Picturehouse pickets in continued living wage strike

Ultimatum as Deliveroo drivers down tools in Brighton

Solidarity with Tesco Ireland Valentine's Day strike

PCS union pledges to fight Jobcentre job losses

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Anti-trade union laws used against 'Trees Action' protesters

Support floods in for the Cardiff no-cuts three

The Socialist: 20 years old and more important than ever

Toxic fracking could start in England in 2017

May Day greetings in the Socialist

New Socialist Party press


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

No, Trumpism is nothing like Leninism

Foreign aid's not the problem - it's capitalist thieves

Vivid visual account of the Paris Commune

The Socialist inbox


 

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15 February 2017