Category Archives: Male prisoners
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 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.
Mitchell Harrison, 23, who had been jailed for the rape of a 13-year-old schoolgirl, was discovered dead in his cell Sunday 2nd October by staff at HM Prison Frankland in Durham, north-east England, Sky News reported.
He was convicted of child rape last year and given an indefinite prison sentence.
The Daily Mail reported that Harrison had been disembowelled by makeshift weapons, believed to be razor blades melted into toothbrush handles, apparently after boasting about his sickening crime. The newspaper said the two suspects turned themselves in to prison officials.
The alleged killers, aged 32 and 23, are due to appear in court tomorrow. A third man who was arrested by detectives is no longer being held in connection with the incident.
The cell where Harrison was found was cordoned off pending a full forensic examination.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman said, “we are carrying out a full investigation into the circumstances leading to this man’s death and are working closely with the prison service”