‘Untouchables’ step up attacks on prison guards (UK)

18/10/2014 in General, Prison Society

via mainstream media

An explosion of violent attacks against prison officers has erupted following a European Court ban on extending detainees’ sentences for misbehaviour.

Before the Euro-court ruling, prison governors had the summary power to add 21 days to the sentence of a young offender and 42 to that of an adult for fighting, assaults and other misdemeanours. The Strasbourg judges ruled last month that the biased system which allowed a prison governor the power to extend sentences in this way was a breach of ‘human rights’.

The Prison Service had to free 900 prisoners because of this and faces compensation payouts of around £90 for every day of extra time served.

Officers claimed inmates with a tendency to violence now believed they were untouchable.

At Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution, in West London, there have been 15 assaults on staff in the last month compared to the usual average of four.

A 24-year-old female guard had her skull fractured when a male prisoner armed with a table leg ran from his cell and began clubbing every screw in sight.

Feltham, which houses 650 detainees aged 16-21, also recorded 15 assaults among detainees last month against a usual average of seven, and 30 cases of cells being damaged, three times the average.

At Walton Jail in Liverpool, seven officers have been assaulted by prisoners in the last week. Another, on duty in the car park, was hit in the shoulder and face by an airgun pellet in a drive-by shooting thought to involve an ex-prisoner.

At Brinsford young offenders’ institution, Wolverhampton, two women officers and a male colleague were attacked within days of the ruling.

One of the women, who was punched, kicked and smashed into a wall, is still off work 17 days later. Police have charged prisoners with assault in all three cases. They are also investigating an attack by an inmate who struck another over the head with two pool balls inside a sock, causing serious injury.

Local POA chairman Steve Bostock said: ‘The severity of the violence is increasing and it has happened since governors lost the right to impose additional days.

‘Our members are saying they feel like cannon fodder and the inmates are strutting around believing they are untouchable.’

One of the prisoners who benefited was Spencer Edwards, 32, from Bootle, Merseyside. He had been sentenced to 233 extra days for beating up six prison officers and 14 inmates during 18 months inside.

He was freed last month after serving 86 of them and now expects compensation of £8,000.

Burglar Carl Francis, 22, from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, had 700 days added after taking hostages and assaulting prison officials. He served ten months of it and is now in line for a £28,000 payout.

A Prison Service spokesman said: ‘We are looking at introducing a system which will allow extra days to be given to prisoners without contravening the European Court ruling. It should be in place within the next few weeks.’

Mike Newell, president of the Prison Governors’ Association, said a new tribunal system was being considered which would involve a visiting magistrate taking over the governor’s role in prison adjudications, with the same power to extend sentences.

He said he had heard reports of inmates boasting that they could do what they wanted following the European Court ruling.

‘We are all going through a period of uncertainty and the small number of prisoners whose behaviour would warrant added days are having their cases put on hold until a new tribunal system comes in to deal with them.’

Branch secretary Tony Mooney said: ‘Since this human rights ruling, convicts know exactly what the score is, and are bragging that whatever they do we can’t penalise them. All we can do is withdraw privileges like canteen facilities and watching television. It is a debacle.’

‘It has become a free-for-all,’ said Prison Officer Association branch chairman Nigel Herring. ‘If all these incidents are now reported to the police for prosecution, courts throughout the land will seize up.’

We can only hope.

Let’s see how the other half like it!

Comments are closed.