24th June 2019
The Prison Reform Trust has released its latest edition the Bromley Briefings prison fact-file. Published twice a year, the Bromley Briefings is an important resource for capturing trends in UK prisons with a view to providing an evidence-led basis for policy and practice change. The document gives a comprehensive overview of the state of UK prisons drawing on government data sources and concentrating on the areas of: sentencing and the use of custody; safety in prisons; prison service resources and staffing; black, Asian, and minority ethnic people in prison; older people in prison; life and indeterminate sentences; learning difficulties among prisoners; foreign nationals; women in UK prisons; mental health in prison; and rehabilitation and resettlement.
In this edition the statistics highlight the growing numbers of people in custody across the UK, the social and economic effects of a rising prison population, the impact of cuts to staffing and prison resources, and the concerns for safety in UK prisons for both prisoners and prison staff.
Key facts from the briefing:
This edition of the Briefing again highlights the rising prison population and the impact of budget cuts on the functioning of the prison service. Of greatest concern is the statistics related to the rapid deterioration of safety in prisons in recent years, with drastic increases in deaths in custody and self-harm among prisoners. Additionally, an investigation conducted by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman cited in the Briefings reported that nearly one in five people diagnosed with a mental health issue did not receive care from a mental health professional while in prison. The Briefings state that "[p]risoners and staff are less safe than they have been at any point since records began."
The UK government has committed to providing additional resources to modernise the prison estate. There are plans for an additional 10,000 prison places to be built by 2020. Targets for the recruitment of new prison staff have been reached but there are issues with staff retention. 54% of prison officers who left the service in 2018 had been in the role for less than two years. The high turnover rate for staff has meant that staff experience across the prison estate has declined as a result.
You can read the Summer 2019 edition of the Bromley Briefings fact-file, in full, here.