Prison attacks on staff hit record high in the West Midlands
Attacks by prisoners on staff and other inmates have rocketed to record levels in West Midlands jails over the last five years, shock new figures have revealed.
According to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures, South Staffordshire’s three prisons saw 313 assaults on staff last year – four times as many as in 2012.
And the data shows that prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in HMP Oakwood, HMP Featherstone and Brinsford YOI jumped to almost 1,000 last year, in what has been described as an ‘extremely concerning’ rise in violence.
Despite the sharp spike in assaults, all three institutions were said to be meeting the majority of their targets in the latest MoJ prison performance tables.
However, HMP Birmingham was given the bottom rung rating in the tables, with MoJ inspectors branding the prison’s performance as being of ‘serious concern’.
It is the second year running that the prison has been awarded the lowest possible grade, with a staggering 434 assaults on staff recorded in 2017, compared to 75 in 2012.
The prison also saw 712 prisoner-on-prisoner attacks recorded throughout 2017, around five times the number from five years ago.
HMP Oakwood saw 161 assaults on staff last year, as well as 158 attacks on prisoners. At Brinsford there were 119 assaults on staff in 2017, with 448 prisoner-on-prisoner attacks recorded.
And HMP Featherstone saw 33 assaults on staff and 158 attacks on prisoners in the same year.
West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge said the figures were a sign of the ‘total collapse’ of the prison system.
“The rise in violence is extremely concerning, and it is equally worrying that nothing appears to be being done to address it,” he said.
Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it was ‘shameful’ that violence was rising to new highs.
“Given we now know that prisons have been under-reporting assaults and self-injury incidents, the fear must be that some are faring even worse than the ratings indicate,” she added.
The MoJ said they were investing heavily in prisons and have recruited more than 3,000 additional officers in a bid to urgently improve conditions.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “We need to get the basics right in prison, which is why we are giving them extra support to ensure they are safe, secure and decent.”