Crackdown in bid to curb compensation payouts for prisoners


A crackdown on prisoner compensation has been launched after it was revealed the bill to taxpayers jumped to nearly £10 million.

Ministers have ordered an audit of personal injury claims submitted to the Prison Service in a drive to identify where payouts and legal costs could be slashed.

It follows a string of attempts to secure payouts by high-profile prisoners.

Records show that in the last financial year a record £28.8 million was spent handling claims. The sum includes damages, legal advice and representation in cases that reached court, with £9.3 million spent on compensation and costs for claims involving inmates. 

The overall figure for the previous year was £21.1million, with £7.4m for claims relating to prisoners - meaning the bills jumped by more than a third (36%) and a quarter (26%) respectively in a year.

Recent cases include a claim for £20,000 from one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

It emerged last year that Michael Adebolajo was suing for compensation after he had two front teeth knocked out in an incident in the high security Belmarsh prison.

Adebolajo claimed he was assaulted by five prison officers, but all were told they would face no charges.

The Ministry of Justice said other cases - which were ultimately dismissed - include:

::Terrorist Abdul Miah launched a claim for racial discrimination after he was searched by a female prison officer. He was seeking £2,000.

::Liquid bomb plotter Abdulla Ahmed Ali sought  £1,250 following an allegation that two boxes containing his personal possessions, including legal mail, were opened, searched and removed in 2013. 

::Burglar Noel Jennings attempted to claim £6,000 after banging his head while play-fighting with another prisoner. He tried to claim he had slipped on water caused by a leak at HMP Manchester.

Announcing the crackdown, Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: "Of course the Prison Service must be accountable, but taxpayers will be staggered to learn that the costs of litigation against it reached £29 million last year.

"We have ordered an independent audit to make sure we are not being taken for a ride. We want public money focused on protecting the public and reforming offenders - not fuelling the compensation culture."

Specialist law firm BLM is carrying out the audit and will report back later this month.