14 Jul 2015

Prison ‘rehabilitation revolution’ lies in tatters

This must be the bleakest picture painted by a chief inspector of prisons.

Nick Hardwick’s last annual report is a blatant warning to the new Justice Secretary Michael Gove.

In it he concludes that prisons in England and Wales are in “their worst state for a decade” with some jails now merely places of “violence, squalor and idleness”.

He describes how when shown a cell during a tour of one London prison, Wormwood Scrubs, a member of staff commented: “I wouldn’t keep a dog in there”.

Homicides are at record levels, and there’s been a 55 per cent increase in serious assaults in the last five years – and still accelerating.

Mr Hardwick says among the factors are staffing levels, sickness rates, a surge in psychoactive substances (legal highs), ministerial policy changes and overcrowding with the prison population now over 90,000.

He said prison staff are “spinning more and more plates and they are starting to drop”.

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His message to ministers is that it can’t go on, and the priority for Michael Gove is to urgently reduce the prison intake.

The chief inspector may well have limited the damage during his five and a half years in the job, but his annual report exposes a total failure in the much hyped “rehabilitation revolution” promised by the previous government.

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7 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    With our Anglo-Saxon penchant for locking people up and begrudging any money spent on rehabilitation, why should anyone be surprised. If Gove’s record in education is anything to go by, he’ll have prisoners breaking rocks on Dartmoor or sewing mailbags. Our penal system needs to be run on the basis of evidence and achievability, not political flag-waving.

  2. JOHN KENNY says:

    THEY HAVE ALLREADY REDUCE THE PRISON INTAKE, THE FRAUDSTER BANKERS WONT GO, THE TWO TIER SYSTEM INSURES THE RICH GO FREE AND THE POOR AND MORE VUNARABLE PEOPLE GO TO JAIL AND FOR THE MULTINATIONALS AND LARGE ORGANISATIONS OOPS SORRY IS GOOD ENOUGH REGARDLESS OF THIER CRIMES.

  3. Douglas Reid says:

    What an extremely shocking and depressing report. How can this be the state of our penal establishments in the 21st century? If this country (our elected representatives) took more time to look at and deal with what was happening on our own doorstep, instead off sticking their noses into world affairs, then perhaps it would be a better place. It is little wonder that a huge % of prisoners re-offend.

  4. Michele says:

    Awwwww.. What a shame!!!! I mean, these prisoners really have it hard don’t they.. They’re fed, they’re watered, no bills no stress nothing…FFS!!!! (OK some may have stress but, hey ho behave and you wouldn’t be in there in the first place!!!)
    This country needs to wake up!!! Prisoners are in prison for a reason. it’s not a holiday!!! Make it as hard as possible for them I say…if they do the crime, not only should they do the time, but their liberties should be taken away!!! That’s the whole point!!!
    They’ve decided to do the crime, make THEM pay for it!!! Not the taxpayers!!!!

  5. Clake says:

    How many prisoners actually need to be in prison. How many could be managed outside and in jobs, supporting themselves than being supported by the tax payer? The resources then spend among those who need to be there and get a better standard of ‘rehabilitation’ . Respect on both sides needs to be addressed. Treat prisoners in humanely you get inhuman behaviours!

  6. Abdul Momin says:

    You know what, you’re not supposed to keep your dog in a prison… It doesn’t commit crimes, people commit crime, they must get punished by the justice system, so what part is punishment if the prisons are comfortable? The prisoner needs to learn from his mistake, and giving an inmate a comfy cell won’t give them a chance to think of what got them there in the first place lol let them suffer. They knew what they were doing when they committed the crime… The most you can do is improve security and “morale” within the prison, restriction of perks, free time, and time spent with other inmates… They all just chilling in there…

    Rethink… What… Punishment… Means…

    What rehabilitation? Was the inmate on drugs? Or is he being punished? Rehabilitate what? They need to fix their behaviour, not have someone breastfeed them, ween them… Let them suffer, they knew what they were doing when they committed the crime…

  7. Philip Edwards says:

    Simon,

    A relevant question:

    How can you expect a gang of neocons bent on gouging privatised profit from everything – including private prisons – to concern themselves with anything as principled and sensible as “rehabilitation”?

    At this rate it won’t be long before we have bribed judges who send people to private jails because it adds to profits. You know, like in the USA, land of the unfree, home of the privatised coward.

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