Category Archives: Assaults on prison staff
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons,Nick Hardwick, above, in a report on Ashield Young Offender Institution published today says:
In January 2013, the Justice Secretary announced plans to close HMYOI Ashfield and re-role it as an adult prison. The inspectorate had plans to conduct an unannounced inspection of the establishment in February 2013. We decided to proceed with the inspection to ensure that the young people who continued to be held there were held safely and decently during the transition, and that plans in place to ensure their move to another establishment or release were well managed.
We focused the inspection on areas of greatest concern and produced this truncated report more quickly than usual so it could be of use before the establishment closed. Because we did not look at every area of the establishment, we have not graded it against each healthy prison test, as is our normal practice. As usual, we gave immediate, detailed feedback to the establishment and Youth Justice Board (YJB) at the end of the inspection.
At the time of the inspection, the establishment was just one-third full and held 123 young people, most of whom were aged 16 or 17. This compared with a population of 332 at the time of our last inspection, and an average of 237 in 2012. Ashfield had an operational capacity of 360.
Our concerns about safety appeared to have been justified. Despite the reduction in numbers held, there had been a sharp increase in self-harm incidents since the closure announcement. The number of formal disciplinary proceedings or adjudications was high, and fights and assaults accounted for two-thirds of the charges laid. The highest number of adjudications per 100 of the population was in January 2013. Levels of violence were high. There were 351 fights and 377 assaults in 2012 and staff told us there had been an increase in the overall number of violent incidents since the closure announcement. In the 12 months to January 2013, there had been 43 serious fights, of which 37 had resulted in serious injury and six in minor injury. Five staff had been assaulted in the same period. Use of force by staff was also high in 2012 and two boys had suffered broken bones following staff use of force.
As at other young offender institutions (YOIs), young people were routinely strip-searched when they entered or left reception. Of 3,773 such searches over the last 12 months, just one had resulted in a find.
Despite the levels of violence, young people did not tell us they did not feel safe. We were also pleased that the segregation unit had been closed since our last inspection, and there were some good systems to address the particularly poor behaviour of some young people.
The environment was reasonable, although needing some attention. Young people could have telephones in their cells, which was a good initiative. Relationships between staff and the young people were good. We were impressed by the way in which staff put their own anxieties about the change aside and did not let this affect their dealings with the young people. Health care was good.
Young people had good access to education and training. However, with the rundown of the establishment it was increasingly difficult to motivate the young people and there was a concern that provision for those transferring elsewhere would not be effectively linked to the work they had done at Ashfield.
During the course of the inspection, we were particularly concerned about resettlement and transition planning. There was a lack of effective joint strategic planning between the YJB and Ashfield. Poor communication between the interested parties was causing widespread confusion. Young people were becoming increasingly agitated because they did not understand what was happening. Some services would be discontinued before all young people had left Ashfield. Overall, we were not confident that the best interests of the young person were always considered.
We have reported our concern about high levels of violence at a number of recent inspections of YOIs holding children and young people. At Ashfield too, young people’s safety was compromised because they were exposed to unacceptable levels of violence – and there is some evidence the situation has deteriorated since the closure decision was announced. Planning for the closure itself was not effectively coordinated between the YJB and Ashfield, and the needs of individual young people were not carefully considered. The anxiety and uncertainty this created may well have contributed to the tension at the establishment. It certainly means that young people are not being adequately prepared for transfer or release. The establishment and the YJB will need to work effectively together, not just to improve the situation but also to ensure it does not deteriorate further.
Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, in a report to be published at midnight, says that in his final inspection of HMYOI Ashfield before it is re-roled from a juvenile institution to a category C adult male prison for sex offenders, he found there were high levels of violence, self-harm, along with high levels of force by staff in which two prisoners suffered broken bones.
Check back after midnight for full details of this shocking report.
A murderer who labelled himself “Psycho” after murdering an Indian student in the street has tried to attack a prison chaplain at a jail near York.
Kiaran Stapleton shot Indian student Anuj Bidve, 23, at point-blank range in Salford, Greater Manchester in the early hours of Boxing Day last year.
Stapleton, 21, was seen by witnesses to laugh as he stood over the body of his victim before he ran off.
He was jailed for life in July and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years before he would be considered for release.
Sources confirmed that Stapleton tried to attack a prison chaplain at maximum-security Full Sutton prison.
It is understood Stapleton attempted to attack the priest with a pen but was restrained by guards before he could injure the chaplain.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “On November 30 a Full Sutton prisoner attempted to assault a member of the chaplaincy during worship. The police have been notified.”
According to a report in The Sun, Stapleton carried out the attack after losing an appeal against his 30-year jail sentence.
Stapleton was convicted of murder by a jury at Manchester Crown Court after it rejected his defence that he had committed manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Sentencing him, Mr Justice King said: “In my judgment, this was no impulsive act on your part. It was a piece of cold-blooded controlled aggression.”
The Ministry of Justice was not liable in negligence for psychiatric injury suffered by three prison officers as a result of an incident in which the escape of a prisoner (Joe Farnan above) whom they had been asked to guard had been secured with threats and a weapon.
(1) ROBERT BURN (2) WAYNE ASHMEAD DE MANN (3) ANN MARIE SHALLOE v MINISTRY OF JUSTICE (2012)
 EWHC 876 (QB) QBD 04/04/2012
PERSONAL INJURY – NEGLIGENCE - PENOLOGY AND CRIMINOLOGY
BREACH OF DUTY OF CARE : ESCAPING : PRISON OFFICERS : PRISON SERVICE : PRISONERS : PSYCHIATRIC HARM : PRISON OFFICERS SEEKING DAMAGES FOR PSYCHIATRIC INJURY ARISING FROM PRISONER’S ESCAPE : WHETHER NEGLIGENCE ESTABLISHED
The claimant prison officers (B) brought a claim in negligence against the defendant Ministry, alleging that they had suffered psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing the escape of a prisoner (F) whom they had been asked to guard.
F had feigned an epileptic fit in his cell. As a result, a prison doctor (P) examined him and directed that he be taken to hospital. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, two of F’s associates secured his release with the aid of threats. Both wore masks. One had a handgun and the other a pair of bolt croppers. Some four weeks previously, F had feigned epilepsy and been taken to hospital in what turned out to be a dummy run for his later escape.
HELD: B had carried out a difficult duty well and bravely on the day in question. However, negligence had not been established. The decision to transfer a prisoner to a hospital was a medical one to be taken by a prison doctor and could not be overriden. The decision taken by P to transfer F to hospital was not one which no reasonably competent prison doctor in the circumstances would have taken. P had been put in a very difficult position. He had been unable to make a definitive diagnosis but had plainly made some enquiries of the wing staff about F. Further, a fellow prison doctor had directed F’s transfer to hospital on the previous occasion when he had feigned epilepsy, having, like P, been unable to reach a definitive diagnosis (see paras 42, 52-54 of judgment).
Judgment for defendant.
CONVERSE PRESS RELEASE
The National Prisoners Newspaper for England and Wales
10th March 2012, 1400hrs – NO Embargo
“Rathband’s Law – Why Exclude Prison Officers”
As the Memorial Service got under way for PC David Rathband with a call for donations to his ‘Blue Lamp Foundation’ that seeks to provide help to those injured in public emergency services, the national prisoners newspaper Converse has asked why once again prison officers who are injured are excluded from the fund.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse said: “Questions from the national prisoners newspaper as to why prison officers are excluded from help by this foundation may seem strange, but we believe everyone in the prison environment has the right to be safe – whatever side of the cell door they may stand on.
“There were 2,856 assaults on prison staff in 2010-11, of which 304 were classified as serious.
“Prison officers fulfil a vital but often unseen role in our society, taking care of dangerous individuals who the ‘emergency services’ often pass on to them without recognition – it is time they were acknowledged for the work they do and the terrible injuries they so often suffer in silence.”
The ex-governor of a high security jail where three prison officers were stabbed by a triple murderer said today he felt “let down, dismayed and humiliated” after a jury cleared the inmate of all charges.
Kevan Thakrar, 24, admitted stabbing the members of staff at Frankland Prison, Durham, in March last year with a broken chilli bottle but claimed he lashed out in self-defence as he feared he was about to be attacked.
Thakrar, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of previous prison experiences, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
A jury took eight hours and 15 minutes to clear him of two counts of attempted murder and three counts of wounding with intent.
He was serving at least 35 years of a life sentence for the drug-related murder of three men and the attempted murder of two women carried in Bishops Stortford with his brother Miran in 2007.
David Thompson, who retired as governor of Frankland last month and was in charge when officers Craig Wylde, Claire Lewis and Neil Walker were attacked, was deeply upset by the verdicts.
He said officers Wylde and Lewis will not work in the prison service again and that Mr Walker courageously saved Ms Lewis from worse injuries by tackling Thakrar.
Mr Thompson said afterwards: “I should remind everyone that these officers and every member of staff at Frankland and the prison service in general are public servants.
“Their work is out of sight but it requires the highest level of professionalism, courage and conviction.
“It is often unseen and under-reported.
“They deserve better recognition and they deserve better support than we have seen from the outcome of this case.
“Prison officers have to deal with the country’s most difficult and most dangerous individuals and they have to perform those duties within the confines of the law.
“They are not above the law, nor should they be.
“In this case, other criminal justice professionals have been amazed by how professional and restrained they were in dealing with the assailant immediately after the incident.”
Thakrar, who wept as the verdicts were returned and thanked the jury, claimed he was exposed to racism at Frankland.
Mr Thompson said the injured officers were “decent people”.
“They are not the sort of people who deserve to find themselves in this terrible, hurtful situation,” he said.
“Staff at Frankland and elsewhere across the service will feel let down, dismayed and humiliated by part of the criminal justice system in which they serve.
“Colleagues in other professional agencies have expressed their dismay at how a case like this can be conducted in a manner where the victims feel they are on trial, that they have done something wrong, and then for the assailant to be exonerated.”
Mr Justice Simon thanked the jury at the outcome of the case and instructed that they do not have to sit again for 10 years.
He also expressed sympathy to the injured guards, adding: “It was not part of the defence case in any way that they brought their injuries upon themselves.”
(Above Miran and Kevan Thrakar jailed for 42 years in 2008 for three murders)
A triple killer who stabbed his prison guards apologised today for wounding three officers in a savage attack outside his cell.
However Kevan Thakrar accused prison officers of a “stitch-up” intended to ensure he spent the rest of his life behind bars.
The 24-year-old, who is on trial for attempted murder and wounding with intent, claimed there was a conspiracy of silence among prison staff with regard to assaults by prison officers on inmates.
The former student and shop assistant told a jury at Newcastle Crown Court prison officers operated according to a principal of “see no evil, hear no evil” when it came to their colleagues’ “abuse of power”.
He said he was denied food and sleep the night before he used a broken bottle of hot pepper sauce to maim officers Craig Wylde, Claire Lewis and Neil Walker at Frankland High Security Prison, County Durham, in March last year.
He said: “It is obviously wrong what happened, the individuals that have been hurt, and I am sorry for that, but it should not have come to that.
“If you put an animal in a cage and you poke it, poke it and poke it and then unlock the door it is not going to just sit there is it?”
He accused wardens of planting the empty bottle in his cell in the hope he would use it to harm himself.
He claimed it was part of a plot to prevent him from attending court to appeal against his conviction in 2008 for the murders of three men and attempted murder of two women in a drug dispute.
Cross examining, prosecutor Tim Gittins said had tried to kill officers Wylde and Lewis with the bottle.
He said: “It had chunky, thick glass and it was empty, ready to be made into a weapon.
“It was a nice, handy size to be used as a weapon, as a shank.
“You made it into a very effective weapon, one capable of inflicting fatal violence, didn’t you?”
Thakrar, originally from Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, replied: “I was not in control.
“I was not thinking right.
“You’re trying to imply I was capable of making rational decisions having not slept, having not eaten, and having all those thoughts running round in my head.
“I had been awake all night.
“I was ready to go home in a few weeks after my appeal.
“Why would I do that?
“I believed I was going home.
“I should have gone home.”
The court heard Thakrar may have been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the time of the attack, as a result of his experiences in the British penal system since being locked up in 2007.
He denies all charges, saying he lashed out at the guards in self defence because he believed he was about to be attacked himself.
The trial continues tomorrow.