HMPPS Spent £250,000 on Flats ear-marked for Prisoners – which have been left empty says Report

The Prison Service has been criticised for spending £250,000 on flats for inmates to live in ahead of their release – only for the accommodation to lay empty for months.

Former staff quarters at HMP East Sutton Park were refurbished with the intention of housing up to 16 women.

The plan was for prisoners to live “semi-independently” in preparation for returning to the community.

But the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for the prison in Kent said the flats remain empty months after the work and fitting out were completed.

The Prison Service declined to fund the necessary staff to supervise the facility, citing “over capacity” in the estate, according to the IMB.

Its annual report said the decision “flies in the face of the stated policy of aiding resettlement of prisoners back into society” and urged ministers to bring the accommodation into service.

Peter Judges, chairman of the IMB, said: “For residents, who have served long sentences, returning to the community can be quite a culture shock.

“The refurbishment of the flats was intended to help residents become more self-sufficient as part of preparation for release.

“It is a great waste of money to refurbish the flats and then not use them, quite aside from the loss of benefit to the would-be occupants.”

East Sutton Park is an open prison and young offender institution holding around 100 inmates.

The main house is a Grade 2 listed Jacobean mansion set in 84 acres of ground.

It is a “working prison”, with a farm, extensive gardens and profitable farm shop that is open to the public twice a week, according to the IMB’s report, which covers the 12 months to the end of October.

The board concluded that the prison is “well run with residents generally enjoying a good relationship with staff”.

Mr Judges said: “Staff encourage residents to take responsibility for achieving as much as they can from their time at East Sutton Park and provide an excellent level of support.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “The extra capacity at HMP East Sutton Park was built in anticipation of an increase in the number of female prisoners from 2018 onwards.

“Although the population has in fact decreased, this option remains open if this changes in the future.

“We welcome the IMB’s praise of the staff’s dedication to help inmates find employment upon release.”

Inmate charged over razor attack on prison officer

A 25-year old prison inmate has been charged with grievous bodily harm after an officer had his throat cut.

Michael McKenna, of HMP Nottingham, is accused of attacking a 23-year-old member of staff at the jail on Sunday.

He has been charged with grievous bodily harm, attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm and a racially aggravated public order offence.

McKenna was due to appear at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Nottinghamshire Police said.

Prison Officers’ Association national chairman Mark Fairhurst said the officer, who was new to the job and still in his probationary period, needed 17 stitches after being attacked with a razor.

He has since been released from hospital.

An inspection report published last year found levels of violence at the prison were “very high”, with 103 assaults on staff in the previous six months.

Over the same period, there had been 198 incidents where prisoners had climbed on to safety netting between landings.

In the wake of the attack, prisons union the POA called for the roll-out of incapacitant spray to officers to be fast-tracked so that members have “equipment to deal with extreme violence”.

It said: “The Health and Safety of our members and indeed those in our care is paramount. Government ministers must now act swiftly before we are talking about a death of a serving prison officer.

“The violence in our jails as identified by this horrendous attack is at epidemic level and the union will not stand by and allow such attacks on our members.”

HMP Nottingham is a category B male prison which expanded in 2010 to hold 1,060 prisoners.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales – the definitive 1500-page annual reference book on prisons now in its 21st annual edition – said he found the issue around Pava spray ‘bizarre’.

Mr Leech said: “We allow all 18+ prisoners to have rechargeable e-cigarettes for Vaping; why don’t we just issue rechargeable electric razors?

“What I find really bizarre is that new entry Prison Officers under going their initial 12-week training are not at any point trained in the use of Pava spray.

“On their POELT course they are taught how to restrain prisoners, how to conduct cell extractions, and even how to blow a whistle properly – but deploying Pava spray does not form any part of their initial training before they are posted to their first establishment – I just ask the simple question ‘why’?”

 

Jordan Cunliffe fails in judicial CCRC and tariff reviews

One of the killers of Garry Newlove – who was kicked to death outside his home after confronting vandals – has lost a High Court action in his fight to have his conviction overturned.

Leading judges rejected a challenge by Jordan Cunliffe against a decision by the independent body, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, not to refer his case to the Court of Appeal for review.

Sir Brian Leveson and Mr Justice William Davis, sitting in London yesterday, dismissed a claim for judicial review by 27-year-old Cunliffe against a decision last year by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Cunliffe is serving life for his part in the alcohol-fuelled killing of 47-year-old father-of-three Mr Newlove in 2007.

He was one of three teenagers found guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court in January 2008. He was 16 at the time of conviction.

Mr Newlove, who had overcome stomach cancer, suffered massive head injuries in the attack at his home in Warrington, Cheshire, and died two days later.

The ruling was the second blow in a week for Cunliffe, who failed to persuade another High Court judge to reduce his 12-year minimum term – the least he must serve before becoming eligible to apply for release on parole – which expires in August.

Sir Brian, ruling in the CCRC case, said it was submitted on Cunliffe’s behalf that “there was nothing in the evidence” to show that he was a participant in the attack on Mr Newlove at the time of the fatal blow.

He went on: “This submission is untenable.”

Sir Brian said: “The evidence as a whole showed that he was participating throughout the incident involving Mr Newlove.”

He added that the trial judge’s direction to the jury “made it perfectly clear that a defendant could not be convicted unless he were proved to be party to the joint enterprise when the fatal blow was struck”.

Earlier, Mr Justice Spencer, ruling on Cunliffe’s application for a tariff reduction, said he had “undoubtedly made very good progress across a wide range of areas”, but it could not be said that “overall his progress has been both exceptional and unforeseen”.

He added: “The absence of true remorse and the complete lack of an acceptance of any responsibility for the part he played in the murder is an important negative factor, although not conclusive in itself.”

It was “greatly to his credit” that Cunliffe had developed into a “mature and responsible young man”.

Mr Justice Spencer said: “The confidence which the Parole Board has shown in the applicant by transferring him to a category D prison, in open conditions, and by approving significant periods of release on temporary licence, is also greatly to his credit.

“The process of parole will have to take its course once the applicant has served the minimum term set by the trial judge, which expires in just a few months’ time in August 2019.

“The fact that the date is so imminent would not have deterred me from recommending a reduction in his minimum term had that course been justified, but it is not.”

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook and Converse newspaper, said Jordan Cunliffe’s case had been ‘littered with serious flaws’ every time it came before the courts.

Mr Leech said:  “From the wrongful directions on joint enterprise given to the jury in Jordan’s case, made clear in the later case of Jogee which even the CCRC accepted could have made a difference at his trial, to secret victim impact statements handed to the High Court under the table by the now ‘Baroness’ Newlove, the deceased’s wife, and later roundly criticised by the Court of Appeal – Jordan’s case has been littered with serious flaws every time it has come before the courts.

“it’s hard to understand what more this young man has to do to ensure justice is done in his case.”

Read the court’s judgement here http://prisons.org.uk/cunliffevCCRC.pdf

From today, UK Citizens who go to foreign terror hotspots face 10 years in jail

British citizens who go to live in foreign terror hotspots could face up to 10 years in prison under new laws that come into force today.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 creates a criminal offence of entering or remaining in a “designated area” overseas.

Ministers unveiled the measure last year as part of efforts to boost authorities’ ability to tackle the threat from so-called “foreign fighters”.

The act allows Home Secretary Sajid Javid to designate an area, subject to parliamentary approval.

In order to use the power, he would need to be satisfied that it is necessary to restrict UK nationals and residents from travelling to or remaining in the area in order to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.

An individual found to have entered or remained in a designated area could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Exemptions have been written into the legislation to protect those who have a legitimate reason for being in the area, such as journalism, aid work or attending the funeral of a relative.

The offence does not allow retrospective prosecutions of individuals who have gone overseas to take part in fighting, such as those who went to territory held by Islamic State, before returning to the UK.

But officials say it will assist if a similar outflow of fighters is seen in a future conflict.

The aim is to provide a deterrent effect and further avenue for bringing charges in cases where individuals are suspected of travelling for terrorist purposes.

More than 900 individuals “of national security concern” from the UK have travelled to engage with the conflict in Syria, the Home Office estimates.

Of these, approximately 20% have been killed whilst overseas and around 40% have returned to the UK.

Figures disclosed in the Commons last year suggested that only around one in 10 returnees has been prosecuted over “direct action” in Syria, although the Government says a significant proportion of those who have come back were assessed as no longer being of national security concern.

The power to designate areas is one of a string of new anti-terror measures that come into force on Friday.

The legislation also:

-makes it illegal to “recklessly” express support for a proscribed organisation;

-creates an offence of obtaining or viewing terrorist material over the internet;

-extends extra-territorial jurisdiction for some terror-related crimes;

-increases maximum sentences for a number of offences.

Mr Javid said: “These new laws give the police the powers they need to disrupt terrorist plots earlier and ensure that those who seek to do us harm face just punishment.

“As we saw in the deadly attacks in London and Manchester in 2017, the threat from terrorism continues to evolve and so must our response, which is why these vital new measures have been introduced.”

Britain was hit by five attacks in 2017, while police and security services have foiled 18 plots in the last two years.

Chief Inspector announces new independent reviews of progress in troubled jails

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke, has announced an important series of new follow-up visits to failing and unsafe prisons designed to give the government an independent assessment of how much progress has been made in improving the treatment and conditions for prisoners.

Independent Reviews of Progress (IRPs) will start in April 2019 and reports will be published 25 days after the visits.

IRPs will give ministers independent evidence about how far jails have implemented HMI Prisons’ recommendations following particularly concerning inspections. The Justice Select Committee supported this aim, stating that HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) should not “mark its own homework” when reporting on the achievement of recommendations.

It is currently envisaged that up to 20 IRPs – short visits of two-and-a-half days – will take place each year. HMI Prisons has secured extra funding from the Ministry of Justice to ensure it can conduct the IRPs in addition to its existing schedule of mainstream inspections of prisons and youth custody facilities in England and Wales.

Prisons will be told in advance they are subject to an IRP, in contrast to the mostly unannounced full inspections. The IRP schedule – along with a very small number of announced full inspections – will be published on the HMIP website once the IRPs have been announced.

Prisons subject to the Chief Inspector’s Urgent Notification (UN) protocol will be a priority under the IRP model. In the business year 2018-19, three prisons were issued with UNs – which require the Secretary of State to respond publicly within 28 days. They were HMP Exeter, HMP Birmingham and HMP Bedford.

The other prisons that have so far been notified of an IRP visit are Chelmsford, The Mount, Manchester and Highdown. HMP Chelmsford was told by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, that it narrowly escaped an Urgent Notification at its last full inspection because of his guarded confidence that the local and regional management could tackle major safety problems at the jail. The IRP will test progress at the prison.

The revised operating protocol between HMIP and the Ministry of Justice states: “The purpose of an IRP is to assess progress in implementing the recommendations from previous inspection reports, to support improvement in prisons, and to identify barriers to progress.

“IRPs differ from inspections, which assess the treatment of prisoners and the conditions of detention against HMIP’s ‘Expectations’ and four healthy prison tests. The IRPs instead follow up on a selection of key concerns and recommendations, and make judgements about the extent of progress made. HMCIP will identify establishments for an IRP based on a number of factors, including: healthy prison test scores over time (and) the key risks at the establishment.”  IRPs will typically take place 8 to 12 months following the full inspection.

Mr Clarke said:

“IRPs are an important new area of work for us. They are designed to give the Secretary of State an independent assessment of whether prisons we have found to be unsafe or otherwise failing are getting to grips with our key recommendations for improvement. There are many governing teams and staff working hard in very challenging jails and through our IRPs we will work constructively with them to support the improvements we all want to see.”

Diabetic prisoner died after ‘truly shocking’ treatment report says


A diabetic prisoner who died after being restrained and left on a cell floor in isolation for 21 hours was subjected to “truly shocking” treatment, a report has found.

Staff at the privately-run HMP Peterborough believed Annabella Landsberg was “play-acting” and that they spent “far too long” before carrying out proper examinations despite her being critically ill, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said.

An inquest jury on Thursday also found there were “failings” by the Sodexo-operated prison in Cambridgeshire, as well as by custody officers, healthcare staff and doctors.

The mother-of-three, who was 45 and lived in Worthing, West Sussex, was restrained by prison staff on September 2 2017 and left without examination by healthcare staff for 21 hours.

When she was finally examined the following day, she was found to be “extremely ill” and sent to hospital where she died on September 6, the report found.

“The events leading up to Ms Landsberg’s death are truly shocking,” it said.

“Both discipline and nursing staff assumed initially that Ms Landsberg was play-acting and it took them far too long to seek managerial intervention and to carry out appropriate clinical examinations.”

The inquest in Huntingdon heard that duty nurse Lesley Watts said Ms Landsberg was “wasting staff’s time” and was “clearly faking medical issues”.

She was suffering from multiple organ failure when she was taken to hospital as a result of her diabetes.

After the hearing, sister Sandra Landsberg said: “It was very distressing to learn that my sister was left on her cell floor for so long when she was so unwell, repeatedly considered to be ‘faking it’.

“My sister will not come back, but no other family should have to go through this. Prisoners should be properly supported and looked after.”

Deborah Coles, the director of the Inquest charity, which represented the Landsbergs, said she “suffered dehumanising, ill treatment”.

“Annabella was a black woman with multiple vulnerabilities,” she said.

“That she came to die a preventable death in such appalling circumstances is shameful.

“Distress of black women in prison is too often disbelieved and viewed as a discipline and control problem.”

Damian Evans, director at HMP Peterborough, said: “It is clear that the care Annabella Landsberg received whilst she was at HMP Peterborough fell short of the standard we expect and we are very sorry for this.

“Our thoughts continue to be with Annabella’s family and friends.

“Since Annabella’s death we have undertaken a thorough review of the delivery of healthcare services at HMP Peterborough and accepted all the recommendations from the initial Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s report into her death.

“This has led to many changes and improvements being made.

“We will consider the jury’s extensive findings and conclusions with great care and continue to make improvements.”

Read the Report

Three former Prison Officers jailed for abusing Detention Centre inmates

Three prison officers who subjected vulnerable teenagers to daily abuse at a detention centre in 1970s and 1980s have been jailed after a judge said their behaviour breached the public’s trust.

Durham Police carried out a huge investigation involving 1,800 witnesses into what happened at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, from its opening in the 1960s to its closure in 1988.

Christopher Onslow, 73, was convicted of misconduct in a public office as well as individual acts of violence against youths and was jailed for eight-and-a-half years at Teesside Crown Court.

He smacked one inmate around the head with muddy football boots which the teenager had not cleaned properly, leaving lasting scars, and caused another to fall from a cargo net and break his back by throwing rocks at the terrified, overweight boy when he got stuck.

John McGee, 75, was jailed for two years and 10 months following his conviction for misconduct in a public office and assault.

Standing more than 6ft tall, he punched a new, 5ft inmate in the face, who then soiled himself in fear, and McGee forced him to bunny-hop down a corridor to clean himself up.

Kevin Blakely, 67, was convicted after a trial of two counts of misconduct in a public office and was jailed for two years and nine months.

Judge Howard Crowson said pushing, shoving and even giving inmates a clip round the ear would not have constituted misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s.

But he said young offenders were regularly punched and stamped on as part of a regime of fear at Medomsley.

Two other officers, who were also convicted following a series of three trials, will be sentenced later this month.

The judge praised the victims’ bravery and the police for taking on the massive case, decades after the violent officers would have thought they had got away with their abuse.

He said: “For many years trainees from Medomlsey Detention Centre shared a common sense of grievance.

“Many had experienced brutality and violence at the hands of prison officers, but nobody wanted to hear about it.

“Those who had the courage to complain when they were released were either ignored or warned that to pursue the complaint would risk a return to Medomsley – nobody wanted to risk that.”

Judge Crowson said the country felt it easier to believe such institutions were places of appropriate discipline “where unruly boys were taught to behave properly”.

He said: “In those days any complaint was likely to be regarded as further evidence that the trainee was anti-social, that he had not learned his lesson and was complaining about appropriate treatment.”

He said the defendants, now elderly men, had been protected for 40 years by that false view, and by a culture of silence from colleagues, even those who were not violent themselves.

The wardens’ violence caused injury but its main aim was to “crush the will of trainees, to terrify them and make them feel powerless”.

He said it was only through the commitment and persistence of the victims and the dedication of the police that enough evidence was gathered to paint the true picture of what happened there.

Toby Hedworth QC, defending Onslow, said either the leadership at Medomlsey was lacking, causing lower ranked officers to believe what they were doing was right, or the leaders were now going unpunished and it was only the “foot-soldiers” who were facing the consequences.

He said: “That regime is now being examined in the light of wholly different values and attitudes from those which pertained in the 1970s and early 1980s.”

He said Onslow was the principal carer for his wife, and he had a much longer period of service working in prisons after Medomsley without any issue.

Caroline Goodwin QC, representing McGee, said he had many years of public service, adding: “He is a proud man and stands tall at every opportunity.”

Simon Kealey QC, for Blakely, said he had worked with recovering drug and drink addicts for years after finishing in the prison service where he had an unblemished career.

Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Green, of Durham Police, said the men had “abused their position to cause immeasurable suffering and lifelong damage to their victims”.

He added that more alleged victims of offences at Medomsley had come forward after the former officers’ convictions.

Of the victims whose allegations have already resulted in prosecutions, he said: “It has taken a huge amount of courage for these men to tell police what happened to them and we have worked hard to ensure they are listened to and supported throughout the investigation and subsequent court process.”

Drug use ‘Widespread’ in Prisons HMPPS Official Report says

Drug use in prisons is now “widespread”,  an official report has warned.

It said the scale of the problem is “significant” and has become more challenging in recent years, exacerbated by the emergence of psychoactive substances.

The strategy paper, jointly prepared by the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “The misuse of drugs in prison is one of the biggest challenges facing our criminal justice system today.

“Drug misuse is prevalent and contributes to violence, crime and vulnerability within prisons, which threatens safety and the ability of our hard-working prison staff to deliver effective regimes.”

The document shows that, between 2012/13 and 2017/18, the rate of positive random tests for “traditional” drugs in jails increased by 50%, from 7% to 10.6%.

Statistics published last year also showed that the number of incidents where drugs were found in prisons in England and Wales rose by 23% to 13,119 in 2017/18.

The paper said: “Drug use in prisons is now widespread, particularly in male local and category C prisons.

“The emergence of psychoactive substances such as synthetic cannabinoids has exacerbated the problem, and these are often used in conjunction with other drugs, while we remain aware of problems with the diversion and misuse of prescription medication.”

Prisons are being provided with x-ray scanners, extra detection dogs and mobile phone blocking technology as part of efforts to stop drugs getting in.

Staff have also been issued with detailed guidance on handling incoming mail following attempts to post drug-laced paper into jails. The ministry said its strategy centres around three objectives, restricting supply, reducing demand and building recovery.

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “The threat drugs pose to the safety of prisons has never been greater and it requires a wide-ranging response.

“The Prison Drugs Strategy sets a clear direction for all those involved in reducing the impact of drugs in our jails.

“The potential benefits of this are huge, not only in the form of improved safety for officers and prisoners, but also in reduced re-offending and greater public safety.”

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said:

“I welcome this, it’s a really important strategy that, subject to resources, potentially brings clarity and common sense to a complex vexed issue.”

Read the Report

New Commons Report Warns of ‘Enduring Crisis’ in Prisons

Ministers should consider abolishing sentences of under a year to help ease the “enduring” safety crisis behind bars, according to a Commons report.

Justice Secretary David Gauke is already looking at the possibility of scrapping jail terms of six months or less, with exceptions made for violent and sexual offences.

The move is backed in a new report from the Justice Select Committee.

It said: “The scale of the prison population crisis is such that it requires a fresh and decisive response.”

The committee suggested the approach could go further, urging the Government to “model” the effects of abolishing sentences of less than 12 months in England and Wales.

Plans are already in place to introduce a “presumption” against custodial terms of under a year in Scotland.

Mr Gauke signalled a departure from the Tory “prison works” mantra as he revealed his vision for “smart justice” earlier this year.

Short custodial terms would be replaced by “robust” community orders under the blueprint.

Penal reform campaigners are in favour, but Tory MP Philip Davies labelled the plans “stupid” last month after obtaining figures showing criminals jailed for six months or less have committed more than 50 previous offences on average.

A safety crisis has swept through much of the prisons estate in recent years, with assaults and self-harm at record levels.

The committee warned it was a “grave and worsening” situation, which was unlikely to improve with the current prison population.

It said: “We are now in the depths of an enduring crisis in prison safety and decency that has lasted five years and is taking significant additional investment to rectify, further diverting funds from essential rehabilitative initiatives that could stem or reverse the predicted growth.”

Over the past 25 years, the prison population in England and Wales has almost doubled in size, the report said.

At the end of last week, there were 82,417 inmates in jail.

The nature of the prison population is rapidly changing, with a higher proportion of offenders behind bars for serious violent or sexual crimes and an increase in the average age of inmates, according to the committee.

It called for a focus on services to reduce the £15 billion annual cost of re-offending, and suggested ministers should consider whether judges could be given a role in monitoring those they sentence to community punishments.

The assessment also raised concerns that support given to 10 jails chosen for a £10 million safety drive could be at the expense of others in “serious need”.

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart has pledged to resign if the scheme fails to achieve a reduction in violence and drugs at the selected establishments.

Conservative MP Bob Neill, who chairs the committee, accused the Ministry of Justice and Treasury of taking a “crisis management approach” to prisons.

He added: “Throwing money at the prison system to tackle multiple issues takes funding away from external rehabilitative programmes that could stem or reverse many of the problems.”

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the report provides a “unanimous endorsement of the Government’s wish to abolish pointless short prison sentences”.

Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse said: “Our prisons are in crisis. They are so overcrowded that they are failing at their central purpose: to prevent crime and keep communities safe by rehabilitating offenders.”

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said the report “sets out the scale and complexity of the challenges facing the prisons system”.

He added: “Our clear focus is on rehabilitating prisoners to reduce crime and keep the public safe, but this can only happen if prisons are safe and decent.

“That is why we are investing significantly in improving conditions and security, and developing a long-term strategy to deliver prison places and reduce violence.”

Welcoming the committee’s support for “our ongoing work considering options for sentencing reform”, Mr Stewart said: “While prison will always be the only place for serious and violent offenders, there is persuasive evidence showing community sentences are often more effective in reducing re-offending than short spells behind bars.”

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said:

“I am absolutely with this in principle, but my problem is that it’s predicated on having an effective probation service in place to monitor the replacement community sentences – and the fact is, as HMI Probation made clear just two days ago, that we just don’t have that.”

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, told the Constitution Committee that statutory changes, including some “exceptions to the general rule”, may bring widespread revisions of Sentencing Council guidelines.

He also pointed out there may be cases where properly monitored non-custodial sentences can be effective.

He said: “It is perhaps a little bit simplistic to suppose that all offenders are affected in the same way,” adding: “A curfew for an 18, 19, 20-year-old is quite a punishment, possibly, and the technology now enables that to be monitored properly.”

Lord Burnett added: “I hope that when there is a debate about sentencing – and it no doubt will extend a good deal beyond the question of whether there should be fewer or very few sentences of custody at less than six months, or a year, or whatever figure people identify – I hope that it will be informed by a really deep understanding of the impact of sentences on offenders and offending, and also that it will be informed by a proper look at what is going on around the world.”

Read the Report