Category Archives: Gangs in Prison
Prison chiefs have linked an attack on a prison officer to the Lee Rigby murder and warned prison staff of an increased risk of threats, according to reports – while an increasing number of Muslim inmates complain they are being intimidated to join the Muslim Brotherhood, a prison gang, and some have received injuries following a refusal to do so.
A male prison officer was left with a broken cheekbone after being held hostage by three male prisoners, two aged 25 and one aged 26, at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire on Sunday.
An email circulated to staff in top-security jails and young offender institutions and seen by The Times said: “Three Muslim prisoners took an officer hostage in an office.
“Their demands indicated they supported radical Islamist extremism.
“All staff are reminded to remain vigilant to the increased risk of potential attacks on prison officers inspired by these and last Wednesday’s events.”
Counter-terrorism officers have been brought in to investigate the attack at the maximum security jail, during which a female warder was also injured.
So far, 10 people have been held by detectives investigating the young soldier’s death, including Adebowale and Adebolajo.
These include a 50-year-old man, arrested on Monday, who was released on bail yesterday.
A 22-year-old man arrested in Highbury, north London, on Sunday and three men detained on Saturday over the killing have all been released on bail, as has a fifth man, aged 29.
Two women, aged 29 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder but later released without charge.
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he was aware of an ‘increasing number of complaints’ from Muslim prisoners in the High Security prison estate who claim to have been intimidated to join the prison-based ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.
Mr Leech said: “Radicalisation of Muslims in the High Security Estate is nothing new and the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood is equally well-known, what I find disturbing is that I have seen an increasing number of Muslim inmates and their families complaining that their loved ones are being intimidated into joining this group and some have received injuries, perhaps unconnected with their refusal, after persistently declining to join.
“One firm of personal injury solicitors I am in touch with confirm they act for a Muslim inmate seriously injured in Full Sutton prison after he continually refused to join the Full Sutton Muslim Brotherhood – unusually and perhaps of significance is the fact that prison staff at HMP Full Sutton have given evidence supporting his case.
“Prison gangs like the Muslim Brotherhood can feed on fear and perpetrate a belief that there is safety in numbers – we should not forget that the Prison Inspection report published in April 2013 on Full Sutton said:
We had two main areas of concern. First, the perceptions of black and minority ethnic prisoners and Muslim prisoners about many aspects of their treatment and conditions were much more negative than for white and non-Muslim prisoners. For example, significantly fewer told us staff treated them with respect and significantly more said they felt unsafe.
“Treating all prisoners with respect and equality is the challenge for the management of Full Sutton, a Maximum Security prison which in so many other respects has shown itself well able to rise to difficult challenges and overcome them – and on this important one it must not be allowed to fail.”
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, in a report on Hindley Prison published today (25th April) says:
HM Young Offender Institution Hindley is a large establishment just outside Wigan with the capacity to hold 440 boys and young people aged 15 to 18. At the time of this inspection it was only just over one-third full.
First impressions are of a pretty bleak, prison-like environment and the obvious youth of many of those held. However, the inspection found commendable efforts to soften the environment, and some determined efforts to address some of the damage that had been done to these young people before they arrived at Hindley and reduce the damage they do to others. The arrangements for a young person’s first few days at Hindley were particularly good – although, as at other establishments, needlessly undermined by the NOMS requirement that every new arrival should be strip searched when they first arrived.
Many of the young people arriving at Hindley had poor previous experience of education – almost half told us they were 14 or younger when they last left school; nine out of 10 had been excluded; eight out of 10 had played truant. So it is a tribute to the establishment that the quality of education and activities was good, and that young people made good progress and obtained qualifications. It was very welcome that speech and language therapy was available when required. Standards of behaviour were much better than that seen in some schools. More could have been done to enable young people to get real work experience in the community, and it was frustrating that half left Hindley without a confirmed education or training place – threatening to waste the progress they had made there.
In other respects, the work to prepare young people for release was good, and better than we normally see. Few young people left without suitable accommodation to go to, and there was good support with family relationships, substance misuse and health issues, and managing money. Effective work was carried out throughout the sentence to address young people’s offending behaviour. The Willow unit provided necessary intensive support to a small number of young people with the most complex needs, although the effectiveness of the therapeutic approach adopted risked being undermined by the length of time these young people spent locked in their cells.
Although there had been efforts in some wings to make the environment more appropriate for young people, in others it remained bleak and austere. The establishment was generally clean and tidy and most cells were in reasonable condition. Most young people had about nine hours out of their cells each day and a decent amount of association time, although insufficient opportunity to work off energy exercising in the open air. There were concerns that imminent changes to the core day arising from a central directive might reduce time out of cell at Hindley – this would be very regrettable.
Relationships between staff and young people were generally good and some young people spoke very highly of the officers who dealt with them. I witnessed examples of some real kindness and effective care – one member of staff had somehow got a horse into the establishment for one very troubled and challenging boy from the Traveller community to care for. As he worked on the horse, she worked on the boy – to much greater effect than more conventional interventions might have achieved. However, we also heard persistent, consistent and credible complaints about the abusive behaviour of a small number of officers. The governor had taken robust action when inappropriate conduct by staff had been identified. These generally good relationships were underpinned by sound processes. Management of diversity and complaints was good, and health care and the chaplaincy both provided very good services.
Nevertheless, despite these real strengths, Hindley was not sufficiently safe. On average, there was a fight or assault almost every day, and some of these were very serious. We were not assured the establishment had an effective grip on what was happening. The number of perpetrators and victims on violence reduction or support measures was not consistent with the number of incidents, and data were not used effectively to identify and address patterns and trends. Investigations into some alleged bullying incidents were not sufficiently rigorous. The number of adjudications and lesser ‘minor reports’ were both much higher than we see elsewhere, with 1,800 adjudications in the first 10 months of 2012, and almost 3,000 minor reports in the same period. Some of these incidents could have been better dealt with more informally.
Use of force was also very high, although much did not involve full control and restraint. Staff sometimes put themselves in harm’s way to prevent injury to young people. Governance of the use of force had improved after some young people had been badly hurt two years previously. The segregation unit was cramped and run-down, and although relationships with staff were generally good, the regime was inadequate, especially for the few young people held there for lengthy periods.
Like all juvenile prisons, Hindley held some very unhappy young people. There had been a very sad self-inflicted death at the beginning of 2012, and the establishment had taken early action as a result of the findings of an investigation into the incident. The number of self-harm incidents remained high (although relatively low level) and, despite the reduction in the population, the number of incidents each month had grown by 18% over the previous year. However, we were not assured that the drive to learn and implement lessons from the death in 2012 was being sustained, and some staff were not clear about their responsibilities in this area.
We were concerned that the sheer volume of violent and self-harm incidents threatened to be overwhelming. For the most part, individual incidents were dealt with well but there needed to be more complete strategic oversight of the entire picture that made the links between bullying and self-harm and kept responses to both perpetrators and victims under review. The safeguarding committee with its external membership appeared to be best placed to do this.
Even only one-third full, and despite very good work, HMYOI Hindley illustrates the difficulty such establishments have in discharging their most fundamental responsibility – keeping the young people they hold safe. There has been a suggestion that as the number of young people in custody declines, those who continue to be held will be a more concentrated mix of the most challenging and unhappy young people. Other recent inspections of YOIs have also identified establishments having much greater difficulty in keeping young people safe.
The YJB, ministers and other policymakers should consider this very carefully as they plan the future development of the youth custody estate.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national prisoners newspaper for England and Wales said it was a ‘deeply troubling report’.
“No one reading this deeply troubling report can fail to be dismayed by the seriously high levels of self-harm and the high levels of use of force by staff.
“The fact that some rogue officers appear to be abusing prisoners is a matter which the police should be required to investigate – Hindley holds some very damaged young boys and young adults, it is vital they are not subject to physical abuse by staff who think they can get away with it.”
The Macau crime boss known as Broken Tooth Koi, who was released from prison today after serving nearly 15 years, will hardly recognise the city he terrorised in the late 1990s with a brutal gangland war.
Wan Kuok-koi was convicted of loan sharking, money laundering and being a gang leader in November 1999, a month before Portugal handed control of Macau, its colony for more than four centuries, back to Beijing and long before the sleepy enclave welcomed international operators to build the modern resorts that have made it a gambling mecca.
As head of Macau’s 14K triad, Wan waged a brutal war with rival triads, or organised crime gangs, for dominance of the lucrative VIP rooms in Macau’s casinos.
He was arrested shortly after a bomb destroyed the car of Macau’s director of investigative police, who was out jogging when the vehicle exploded and was unscathed by the assassination attempt.
Wan walked out of Coloane Prison in today’s grey dawn, flashed a faint smile and refused to answer questions from reporters before speeding away in a white Lexus.
According to news reports in Macau and nearby Hong Kong, authorities have been preparing for his release by warning hotels and casinos to tighten security and plan to keep a close eye on him after he gets out.
Officials including one from Beijing’s liaison office with Macau have also warned Wan, now in his late 50s, to behave after his release, the reports said.
The measures are a response to fears that Wan’s release would be followed by a return to the pre-handover gang violence that rocked Macau and claimed dozens of lives, including 37 in 1999 alone.
Some worry he will try to get involved again with junkets, which arrange for wealthy mainly Chinese gamblers to come to Macau, lend them money and make big profits by collecting on debts.
But analysts say upon his return to society, he will likely find he has lost much of his power and influence following Macau’s decade-long transformation from a seedy and corrupt crime-ridden backwater into the world’s top gambling market.
Macau’s decision to end a four-decade casino monopoly in 2002 opened the way for foreign operators to modernize the industry. Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd have all opened glitzy resorts in recent years. Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal.
Eight people have been arrested in a series of dawn raids aimed at curbing gang crime in the capital, Scotland Yard said.
Officers seized crack cocaine, a cannabis factory and an air pistol among other items in the raids on 17 addresses in the Westminster and Brent areas of London.
The operation was targeted at people believed to be gang members suspected of involvement in a series of crimes including robbery, drug supply and looting in the riots last August, Scotland Yard said.
The eight arrested, all aged between 16 and 24 years old, are being held at central and north London police stations.
Scotland Yard said 120 police officers took part in the operation, led by the newly formed Trident Gang Crime Command launched earlier this year to pursue gangs and gang members across the capital.
The arrests follow another police operation when officers detained six people from rival gangs following a violent fight on a bus in Brent.
Detective chief inspector Tim Champion, from the Trident Gang Crime Command, said: “By successfully removing the negative role models and their gang associates within the local community we are hoping to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place.
“There is nothing cool about being in prison - it is not a positive experience. There is nothing trendy about having a criminal record.
“It only makes it harder to get a job or into further education. There is nothing untouchable about being involved in violence and crime. It can lead to getting arrested, sent to prison, seriously injured or even killed.
“We are working with partners and agencies to offer ways out of gangs and divert young people away from what can become a very destructive path.”
New gangs are forming in prisons as more and more young people are jailed over the riots, a watchdog has said.
Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said it had been a “challenge to keep young people safe” as hundreds were jailed after last month’s looting and violence.
He said new gangs were forming in prisons and gang activity was growing as more young people were joining for their own protection.
“In some places, young people in particular units have formed themselves into gangs or groups and some young people who have not been involved in gangs before have now joined gangs for protection,” he said.
More than 1,700 people have appeared in court over the disturbances, with one in five aged between 10 and 17, and nine in 10 male, the latest Ministry of Justice figures showed.
The inspector’s comments come after all prison governors in England and Wales were warned last month to take steps to ensure the safety of inmates jailed over the riots after a “nasty” assault between rival gangs left two prisoners in hospital.
The Prison Service sent an email to governors reminding them of the need to warn new inmates of the risks of stating where they live, what gang they may be in, or what team they may support.
Mr Hardwick also said “significant numbers” of young offenders were being placed on suicide watch and other self-harm prevention measures.
Launching his annual report, he said: “Our current inspection programme has given us a good insight into how prisons are coping with the influx of prisoners resulting from the recent disturbances.
“There has been some disruption and stresses.
“It has been a challenge to keep young people safe in particular – both in the existing population and among new arrivals.
“There have been tensions between prisoners, some potentially serious incidents and significant numbers of young people placed on self-harm prevention procedures.
“It is a credit to the staff involved that there have not been more serious incidents.”
Mr Hardwick went on: “Although we have only looked at a small cross-section of prisons and young offender institutions, up to now they have had the capacity to physically absorb the additional numbers.
“But capacity is more than just a question of how many prisoners can be squeezed into the available cells.
“The concern my report highlights is that there will not be sufficient capacity to do anything useful with many of them when they are there.”
Mr Hardwick said too many offenders jailed over the riots will have to sit out their sentences with very little constructive to do and little input to prevent them reoffending.
He went on: “Going to even the best-run prison for only a short time is a very severe punishment indeed.
“I have found no holiday camps.
“But for many short-term prisoners, the reality will be being locked up in a small shared cell with an unscreened toilet for 20 hours a day – with too much access to drugs and negative peer pressure and too little access to work and resettlement help.”
Mr Hardwick added that, for young men in the London area, “their involvement in gangs in the community made them concerned for their safety in prison”.
One inmate at Feltham young offenders institution in west London said: “There have been times when gangs that I have a problem with will see me during visits – and I would have no other choice but to fight.”
A survey of 671 prisoners aged under 21 found 6% felt victimised because of gang-related issues, compared with just 3% of the 5,719 prisoners of all ages who responded.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust campaign group, said the report showed “the extent to which imprisonment, the most expensive disposal available to the courts, results in thousands of short-term prisoners and young offenders being warehoused, with little if any pretence at work, training, education or effective resettlement”.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said he was “deeply concerned” that the number of serious incidents and security breaches in London jails has increased since the riots.
“The public expect prisoners to be punished and reformed in prison, not recruited into gangs,” he said.
“Prison and probation officers have an important role to play in prisoners’ rehabilitation, but we are seeing thousands of frontline job losses in the Prison and Probation Services.
“This Tory-led Government must now give assurances that their cuts will not put the security of prisons at risk.”
He went on: “The prison population has reached a record high and prison and probation officers are being increasingly overstretched.
“It is vital for security in our prison estates that prison and probation staff get the resources and support they need.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Gang affiliations are not necessarily reflective of gang membership in the community. Where they exist, gangs are managed within the broad security and control frameworks that apply to all prisoners.
“Within this, there are clear strategies to prevent the supply of drugs and mobile phones into prisons, and a violence reduction strategy.
“We have enhanced our offending behaviour programmes in prisons to address issues of gang violence and knife crime.
“We are also piloting a new one-to-one intervention for those whose violence and offending is linked to their sense of identity and affiliation.”
Justice Minister Crispin Blunt added that the report was a “balanced and fair reflection of the work of the prison service”.
“It is clear that we are still not doing enough,” he said, adding that the Government was “pursuing new ways of getting the best out of all the agencies that can help deliver effective rehabilitation through payment by results”.
He went on: “Nick Hardwick’s greatest concern is the lack of activity by too many prisoners.
“That is why we are working hard to maximise proper work in prisons by prisoners.
“A full day’s work making some sort of economic return that can help victims of crime can deliver a number of important overlapping benefits.
“By the time of his next report I hope he will be able to report satisfactory progress in this area and continue to do so year by year as we bring this policy aspiration to reality.”