Burgon speaks out after report reveals spiralling violence
SHADOW justice secretary Richard Burgon warned that “drastic Tory cuts” are creating a prisons crisis after a highly critical new report released yesterday revealed escalating drug use, violence and self-harm.
Mr Burgon was responding to a damning HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report on prison conditions in England and Wales.
It found that staffing levels were too low to maintain order and highlighted an increased prevalence of drugs.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said he had often been “appalled” at conditions, while inspectors reported seeing prisoners “obviously” under the influence of drugs.
And he condemned the government’s response to recommendations made by the inspectorate in last year’s report as “unforgivably poor.”
The report highlighted an increase in violence — assaults on prison staff have risen by 38 per cent since last year with more than 6,000 incidents recorded — self-harm and suicides in prisons and described conditions as “squalid.”
Mr Burgon told the Star: “After last year’s report it was hard to imagine that the crisis in our prisons could be any more acute. But this report makes it clear that the situation is getting worse by the day.
“Our prisons are becoming ever more dangerous for prisoners and staff alike. Assaults on staff are up by over a third, year on year.
“And it is a stain on the nation that not a single young offenders’ institute that was inspected was deemed safe.”
He said the government’s failure to get a grip of the crisis is making it harder to turn prisoners lives around and reduce the risk to the public.
Mr Burgon said: “It’s clear that the Tories are not capable of fixing the mess they’ve created.
“Drastic Tory cuts to prison budgets and staff numbers are driving this prisons crisis.”
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We know that our prisons have faced a number of long-standing challenges, with annual increases in violence and self-inflicted deaths.
“That is why we have taken immediate action to boost prison officer numbers and put in place new measures to tackle drugs and mobile phones.”