VIOLENCE in prisons across England and Wales is “spiralling out of control” amid an overcrowding epidemic, international human rights investigators revealed yesterday.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), the Council of Europe’s prisons watchdog, warned that “systemic failings” meant “none of the prisons [it] visited could be considered safe for prisoners or staff.”
Recorded incidents of assault, self-harm and suicide are at record levels — in the year to September there were 25,049 assaults in prison across England and Wales — equivalent to over 60 every day.
But the CPT warned that under-reporting and downplaying incidents that were reported meant the true scale of violence was likely to be much worse.
After visiting Doncaster and Pentonville prisons last spring, the committee said that these figures “fail to afford a true picture of the severity of the situation.” It warned that violence is “spiralling out of control” and overcrowding is “chronic.”
Many prisoners were spending up to 22 hours per day locked in their cells, while some juveniles in Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute were spending up to 23 and a half hours a day locked in their cells to deal with violence, which investigators branded “inhuman and degrading.”