19 Aug 2011

Rioters clash with other prisoners in crowded jails

EXCLUSIVE: Prison governors are warned about outbreaks of violence between rioters on remand and serving prisoners as Britain’s jails reach breaking point.

Prison governors have been warned about outbreaks of violence in Britain’s increasingly crowded jails as prisoners attack suspected rioters, Channel 4 News can exclusively reveal.

Two young remand prisoners, who had been arrested and charged over last week’s violence and looting, were hospitalised after a “nasty” assault at Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution near Rochester in Kent.

The memo from the Ministry of Justice, which was sent out to prison governers earlier this week, urged prison staff to consider the safety of the large numbers of new prisoners who have been locked up since the riots.

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Two young remand prisoners, who had been arrested and charged over last week's violence and looting, were hospitalised after a

There are fears that first-time offenders may be at risk as they are herded into the same jails as hardened criminals.

The memo said: “Over the past few days there has been emerging intelligence regarding the consequences of receiving public disorder remands/offenders.

“This is being assessed and processed with individual establishments responding appropriately. In due course this information will be shared more widely.

“The consideration that has been gathering pace is the safety of remands/offenders involved in the public disorder. This applies to the range of remands/offenders and is not limited to the young offenders/young person estate but also includes adult male and female offenders.

“This morning there has been a nasty three person alleged assault. All three victims were public disorder remands, two currently in hospital.

“It is important that where remands/offenders are received thought is put into their background in terms of their experience of a custodial setting.

“Whilst the induction process ensures that remands/offenders are aware of the risks of stating where they live, what gang they may be in, what team they may support or faith they may be, it is worth ensuring that reception staff give a verbal brief and assess risk where they remand first time in custody people.”

Prisons approach capacity

Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice show that the total prison population in England and Wales has reached 86,654 – just 1,500 places below operational capacity.

About 700 people have been added to the country’s prison system over the last seven days, many of them convicted over their part in the four nights of unrest that swept London and other major cities last week.

About 1,300 people had appeared before the courts in connection the riots by Wednesday and around two-thirds had been jailed.