Assaults on staff and prisoners at record levels at HMP Peterborough

Assaults on staff at HMP Peterborough have hit record levels it has been revealed.

Monday, 31st July 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:35 am
Exteriors of HMP Peterborough EMN-150912-163117009

In 2016 there were 154 assaults on staff at the prison, the highest number recorded since the jail opened in Saville Road, Westwood in 2005.

Figures released by the government show of the 154 assaults, 21 were graded as ‘serious.’

There have also been a record number of ‘prisoner on prisoner’ assaults, with 419 recorded last year, with 60 graded as serious.

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The figures also show self harm at the jail is at its highest level since 2011, with 1485 incidents reported in 2016.

There were six deaths at the jail, a record number, with three recorded as being of natural causes and one recorded as self inflicted.

With the exception of self inflicted deaths, which remained static at one, all the categories saw a rise compared to the previous year - with the number of serious assaults on staff more than doubling.

In a separate Government report, it was said the prison was meeting a majority of Government targets. The targets were across prison life, and not just limited to safety.

The privately run prison is the only jail in the country with both a male and a female wing. It has an ‘operation capacity’ of 868 prisoners.

In 2015 The Sodexo run jail was given a glowing report by Government inspectors - although concerns were raised about the number of self inflicted deaths. Safety at the prison was rated at the highest level in the report.

In April this year it was revealed pipe bomb plans had been discovered at the jail - although no pipes were found, and a spokesman said the discovery was ‘not assessed to be a threat.’

In October last year Jordan Palmer was given a 14 year jail sentence after he was convicted of the manslaughter of his cell mate Terry Ojuederie in December 2015.

An HMP Peterborough spokesperson said: “We are pleased to see HMP Peterborough broadly performing well against many Government targets. Unfortunately, there was an increase last year in assaults and deaths last year which reflects a wider trend across the prison estate.

“Safety is our top priority, and we remain fully committed to our safer prisons policies. We have also introduced a revised violence reduction strategy.”

The picture of a growing number of assaults on staff and prisoners at HMP Peterborough is similar to one seen across the country, and Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: “These numbers confirm what the Chief Inspector of Prisons has described in graphic detail—that our prison system is nowhere near being safe for those who live and work within it.

“The appalling loss of life and toll of despair requires something more immediate than the promise of more staff and new prisons. In the short term, the provision of much cheaper and easier access to a legitimate phone system would make a day to day difference—and provide some consolation to the families of prisoners wondering if their loved ones are safe inside.”

Steve Gillan General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association said:“My members have lost patience with the employer and Government. They are fed up with being treated with disrespect, ignored and used as modern-day slaves as the management of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) try to paper over the cracks, whilst Government reward those at the top who have overseen the chronic demise of the Service with bonuses which outweigh the salary of some of my members.”

He added:“We cannot permit to allow the Government and the employer to allow these unprecedented increases of violence to continue. The abject failure of HMPPS to address these issues and challenge the Governments cuts year on year has again resulted to bring about a Service in crisis. On behalf of the Union we call on the resignation of (Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service) Michael Spurr and other Senior Members of the Board who have allowed this situation to develop on their watch.”