UK Rioters Allegedly Suffering Prison Abuse

Posted Aug 27, 2011 by Anthony Organ
As the UK prison population continues to grow after reaching a record high, there is some concern that those convicted of rioting are finding being victimised by other prisoners.
Allegations have emerged today that conditions in prisons are worsening in the wake of the riots, including segregation of rioters from other prisoners, overcrowding, and physical attacks on suspected rioters. One anonymous mother of a teenager imprisoned at the Isis Young Offender Institution described how he was assaulted due to prisoners falsely believing him to be a rioter, when in fact he simply arrived on the same day as some of the rioters.
With over 3,000 people arrested in connection to the riots and recent figures suggesting that around 70 per cent of those who have appeared in court are being remanded in custody as opposed to the usual 10 per cent, there are concerns that the prison system will find itself unable to cope. As prisons become overcrowded, staff find it increasingly difficult to control behaviour and so the potential for violence amongst prisoners increases. Also, last week Harry Fletcher, of the probation officers' union Napo, noted that the chance for work, education or rehabilitation will be "zero" as space runs out. This has led many to question whether the harsh prison sentences being given will do more harm than good in the long-term. Paul Matthew, a lawyer for firm GT Stewart who are representing a 15-year-old suspected rioter said that "we're creating criminals of the future" due to the lack of chance for rehabilitation. There were concerns earlier this year that the quality of prison education were deemed "unacceptable" at Reading Young Offenders Institution, the country's main provider of prison education, and statistics released by the Ministry of Justice in December last year noted that "75% of offenders sentenced to youth custody re-offend within a year". There are concerns that with less chance for rehabilitation due following the riots this figure may rise even further.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice denied the allegations of prisoner segregation or lack of space at Isis. She also claimed that there "have been no assaults other than some scuffles two weeks ago". She did however admit that some juveniles from London had been moved to the North-West as far as Wetherby Prison in Leeds and Hindley which is near Manchester. She claimed that "they will be moved as space becomes available in the south", but gave no indication as to when that was expected to be.