Violence and costs rise at Peterborough prison

Violence at HMP Peterborough has risen despite more money being spent on inmates, official figures reveal.

Amid record levels of assault and self-harm in jails across England and Wales, MPs have published a scathing report warning that the prison system is in an “appalling state of crisis”.

HMP Peterborough

HMP Peterborough

Members of the Commons Justice Committee accused the Government of having no clear plan for “desperately needed change”.

At HMP Peterborough, spending on each prisoner shot up to £42,364 in 2018-19, nine per cent higher than in the previous year, new Ministry of Justice statistics show.

Meanwhile, separate figures published by the MoJ recorded 858 assaults at Peterborough Prison in 2018 – 87 more than the previous year.

These included 305 attacks on staff , 31 of which were considered “serious”, such as those needing medical treatment or resulting in fractures, burns, or extensive bruising.

There were also 1,471 self-harm incidents , down from 1,809 in 2017.

In total, £50 million was ploughed into the jail in Peterborough over 2018-19, according to the data.

HMP Peterborough is a privately run prison, and the Sodexo run facility is the only jail in the country with both male and female inmates.

Damian Evans, director at the jail, said: “Violence is a well-documented issue across all prisons and HMP Peterborough is not immune to this.

“We constantly review our preventative work to respond to the frequently changing factors which drive violence. As part of our efforts to reduce the supply of drugs, a key driver of violence, into our prisons we have invested in technology such as body scanners and drug detection equipment.

“Our violence reduction strategy for 2019/2020 acknowledges there is more to be done while building on the progress made between mid-2018 to 2019 to improve safety levels for those who live and work in HMP Peterborough.

“The costs associated with running a prison can vary due to a number of factors, including the changing prison population and progressive projects to improve our rehabilitative efforts.

“We continue to be proud of the great work staff across HMP Peterborough do in circumstances which can be challenging.

Across England and Wales, prison resources cost taxpayers £3.4 billion in 2018-19 – an average of £41,136 per inmate.

The bill has risen by more than £220 million over the last year with prices per inmate hiked by nearly 10% – around £3,500.

At the same time, violence in the country’s jails has continued to climb.

Attacks on prison staff jumped 15% in 2018-19, with 10,315 assaults recorded.

The number of inmates self-harming also rose, by 24 per cent over the period, to 58,030. As of September, self-harm incidents per person reached a record 4.8.

There were 317 deaths in custody in 2018-19, 87 of them self-inflicted.

Deborah Coles, executive director of the campaigning charity INQUEST, said the statistics showed an “endless cycle of systemic neglect and political indifference”.

“Any incoming government must radically transform sentencing policy, reduce the prison population and redirect resources to community services,” she added.

The MoJ said it would take time for improvements to be seen in prisons.

A spokesperson said: “We know that levels of violence and self-harm in prisons are unacceptably high, but we remain determined to make progress so that our jails reform offenders, reduce reoffending and keep the public safe.”