Assaults in prisons reach new record

Levels of violence in jails in England and Wales have reached a new high.

In the year to September 2017, the number of recorded assaults on staff and prisoners was 28,165, up 12% from a year ago, according to Ministry of Justice figures released on Thursday.

The previous record - 27,193 - was recorded in the 12 months to June 2017.

Of the latest total, 3,726 were serious assaults, a rise of 10%.

HMP Liverpool inspection
Inspectors published a highly critical report on HMP Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

The statistics also reveal that for every 1,000 prisoners, there were 91 incidents of assault against a member of staff.

The 7,828 assaults on staff, up 22% on the previous year, also represent a record high.

In the same period there were 20,346 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, a rate of 238 per 1,000 inmates.

Cases where a prisoner and a member of staff were assaulted at the same time are recorded as single incidents in the overall total.

But the number of deaths in prison custody has fallen in the year to December 2017, down 17% from 354 to 295. Three were homicides.

The figures come amid fresh scrutiny of the state of jails in England and Wales, which have been hit by surging levels of violence, self-harm and drug use.

New prisons minister @RoryStewartUK tells MPs that @MoJGovUK has published an action plan in response to the @HMIPrisonsnews report on Liverpool prison. Here it is:

-- The Howard League (@TheHowardLeague) January 23, 2018

Last week HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) condemned the "squalid" state of HMP Liverpool, describing conditions at the jail as the worst inspectors could remember.

The inspectorate also used a new "urgent notification" system for the first time to demand the Government take action at HMP Nottingham.

New prisons minister Rory Stewart said there is a need to "get back to basics" following too much "abstract" discussion about policy, and described the task of transforming the service as a five to 10-year project.

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