by Dayo Laniyan
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has hosted the Prisons Crisis Summit, a meeting intended to identify major problems and discuss methods to improve the penal system to reform criminals and cut re-offending rates.
Attending the Summit were many leading criminal justice system figures, including prison governors and staff, police, probation, charities, local government and voluntary groups, all meeting to talk about the “Worsening State of Jails”-marked by increased violence, suicides and absconds.
The whole Summit was the latest in a series of interventions on ‘The Choice’, aimed an contrasting Labour’s positive outlook with that of the Tories who will apparently offer only more of the same failed approach.
Sadiq Khan said, in a speech at the summit, “The Government pretends all is well in our jails. But there is a yawning leadership gap under David Cameron and Chris Grayling. The Tories are in denial about the scale of the crisis and offer no solutions to tackle the mounting chaos.”
“We can’t go on like this. Five more years of the Tories risks five more years of failure.”
This Summit followed a damning report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) of HMP Doncaster privately run by security giant Serco.
The report summarized the state of the prison with “performance was in decline”, revealing several actions of gross misconduct, including locking inmates in cells with no running water or electricity for two days or more; an extremely violent incident where a wing had been damaged by fire and vandalism; and also an incident where an inmate with a history of mental health problems and previous suicide attempts was found hanged in his cell, after a close relative had died and his girlfriend had left him.
No level of risk was reviewed for him.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said: “Despite some positive features, Doncaster was a prison with much that had to be put right, some of it urgently.”
Riding on this, Khan said at the summit, “Last year more people died behind bars than ever which are a truly shocking statistic. Prisoners are festering in cells instead of on courses or training…I’m committed to putting rehabilitation at the heart of what prisons do, so that we can cut re-offending.”
Only then will we be able to cut crime, cut the cost of sending people to prison and make communities safer.”