- Posted April 20, 2014 by
British prisons a DISGRACE to civlized society !
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons
Then that places British prisons somewhere in between the dark ages and a poorly run 3rd World country's zoo!
I have lived all over the World and been a top radio dj and shock jock, war correspondent and now foreign correspondent. After researching conditions in British prisons I am ASHAMED to be a British citizen !
The police chiefs, judges,justice minister and prime minister should be made to spend time in Britain's horrible prisons so they can personally FEEL what is happening to other British citizens !
I am only scratching the surface but please read what a British expert says about them and judge for yourselves.
Angela Levin is is a ten year veteran of the British prisons oversight committee, she has carefully and thoroughly toured the worst prisons without escort and with her own set of keys, a very brave woman indeed I'd venture to say !
She has repeatedly presented her reports to the highest levels of government only to be scorned and ridiculed by her findings and to be met with absolute denial of the truths !
Open drug deals. Muslim fanatics. Petty claims for 'human rights'... what life's REALLY like in our jails: Angela Levin, the Home Office's former 'eyes and ears' in UK's most famous prison, exposes damning truth
- Angela Levin worked at HMP Wormwood Scrubs for ten years
- She headed the West London prison's Independent Monitoring Board
- She says she resigned in despair when complaints were not heard
- Levin says the prison is at breaking point, but no actions are taken.
Wormwood Scrubs prison...a British dark NIGHTMARE !
After nearly ten years with the prison’s officially appointed Independent Monitoring Board Levin has resigned. Wormwood Scrubs is on a knife edge and repeated warnings to the Ministry of Justice have been brushed aside.
It is bad enough that drug dealing goes unchecked, that cells are smashed and smeared with excrement, that the most infamous prison in the country is unspeakably filthy.
But, worse, serious violence is rising. It’s a near miracle that no one has yet been killed !
Each and every day, prison officers take their lives into their hands trying to prevent full-blown riots.
Ministers boast of constructive work and rehabilitation for prisoners.
But Levin sees illiteracy, endemic mental illness and aside from murderous outbursts an atmosphere of hopeless apathy.
Meanwhile the tentacles of bureaucracy encircle this and other prisons ever more tightly suppressing the truth and realities any which ay they can !
What Levin and fellow Board members have seen at Wormwood Scrubs is a disgrace. It is vital that the public now understand that, too !
Wormwood Scrubs has an extraordinary history. Its imposing entrance has made it the prison of choice for film and documentary makers. Its inmates have included George Blake, Charles Bronson, Leslie Grantham, Pete Doherty, Keith Richards and John Stonehouse, the Labour Minister who faked his own death.
At breaking point: The entrance to HMP Wormwood Scrubs in West London, pictured while prison officers were on strike
Like every other prison, it operates with an official IMB, which is charged with helping the 1,200 prisoners, particularly when it comes to the way they are treated, and with ensuring that standards of decency are maintained. We are called the ‘eyes and ears’ of the MoJ.
So it is impossible to miss the drugs, an utterly corrosive, ubiquitous part of prison life. One officer tells me it is easier to get ‘your drug of choice’ in a prison than on the street.
On one occasion, an officer actually points out the main dealer on the wing, saying nothing will be done about him because he is ‘helping to keep the prisoners happy’ and compliant. ‘You name it and I can get it,’ says a prisoner. ‘It is just much more expensive.’ Most drugs in prison can fetch more than seven times their street value.
The Visitors’ Centre, where prisoners meet family and friends, is a regular source of drugs despite compulsory searches and officers with sniffer dogs. The drugs are concealed in a baby’s nappy or smuggled through a lingering kiss. Prisoners hide drugs and even mobile phones – in their body cavities.
Prisoners are searched at the end of every visit but the Human Rights Act prevents officers touching a man intimately when searching.
Drugs and phones are also thrown over the prison walls and reeled in by prisoners through their cell windows in a technique known as ‘fishing’. On one occasion, a large dead pigeon was thrown over tied up with wire. The pigeon was stuffed with heroin. In just one month, seven parcels containing 11 phones were found to have come over the wall, along with chargers and a substantial amount of cannabis.
And as soon as search officers arrive on the ground-floor of a wing, prisoners on the three higher levels somehow get wind and dispose of the drugs, probably by flushing them down the toilet.
Violence is very prevalent in British prisons too.
In one month, picked randomly, on one wing,
officers had to deal with the following: an attack when an officer nearly lost an eye, a threat by a prisoner with a razor blade, verbal threats by three prisoners, a prisoner who refused to be searched and had to be restrained, and four fights between four sets of prisoners. In addition, two prisoners self-harmed by cutting their arms badly, there was one death in custody and two prisoners tried to hang themselves !
On a different wing, the same month included: a prisoner biting an officer on the leg, a prisoner headbutting an officer, one breaking an officer’s finger, another throwing boiling water over an officer, and two prisoners setting fire to their cells
assaults against fellow prisoners and staff are rampant !
One officer tells me the Extremism Task Force set up after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby last May, is, if anything, making radicalisation more likely. Hundreds of Muslim clerics were enlisted to help deradicalise British jails.
The officer says: ‘In fact the prisoners relate to imams because they are the ones who are most around. A prisoner starts talking to an imam who seems sympathetic and non-judgmental and thinks that if he is so nice,
perhaps there is something in the religion . . . Conversion happens by osmosis.’
Moreover, although some of the complaints addressed to me verbally or lodged in the green metal post boxes on the wall are completely justified, touching even, there is a culture of petty demands and self-obsessed objections.
Small things take on a huge significance when men are locked up. Getting one sausage rather than the promised two for lunch. ‘I have asked for a radio every day for the last three days and I still haven’t got it,’ says one prisoner. There is a limit to the number of radios, televisions and kettles because so many are smashed in anger.
Crisis behind bars: Angela Levin says Wormwood Scrubs is on a knife edge and despite the repeated warnings by staff like herself, the Ministry of Justice have brushed aside the problems.
Wormwood Scrubs has been described by some as the dirtiest prison in London. The ground directly under cell windows is particularly unpleasant.
This is cleaned up by a bio-hazard team made up of prisoners – when they can find enough who agree to do it. They are paid just £1 an hour.
The Segregation Unit contains a special accommodation unit for those on a ‘dirty protest’ if they fail to get their own way and cannot express themselves verbally, protest by spreading excrement over the cell walls and often over themselves.
Conversation with these prisoners is not easy and, as many are naked, I try to keep my eyes focused on their face. I have to breathe through my mouth how fed up he is with prisons in general.
‘I went down the s*** process last week,’ he says. ‘Prison is wearing me down. I will be using it now until I get out whenever something is unreasonable. Too many people are treating me like a tin of beans so I shall use s*** on them.’
Doing nothing?: Prime Minister David Cameron is escorted around C wing during a visit to Wormwood Scrubs Prison two years ago
In October 2013, more than 20 per cent of the budget and staff at Wormwood Scrubs were cut. There were so few staff on the wings that the prisoners stayed in their cells for more than 20 hours a day. It wouldn’t be allowed to happen if they were animals !
One senior officer confides: ‘I fear the prison will operate with significant shutdowns from now to eternity. There is absolutely no room for slack. We are even having to rely on decent older prisoners to keep the younger ones under control and prevent riots.’!
Addicts and the mentally ill should not be in mainstream jails. Without them, prisons could focus on rehabilitation.
Levin also believes foreign nationals should not be detained in overcrowded London prisons when they could be housed in specialist institutions. Paperwork and deportations should be handled more quickly.
Prisons, of all places, should not tolerate drug dealing. And why are addicts given methadone, a heroin substitute, rather than weaned off the drug completely?
Levin doesn't believe that the Coalition is right to want to build ever larger prisons. They are notoriously difficult to run and usually have an inexperienced staff. The money should be used to build units for the addicts and mentally ill where they can be treated rather than just housed.
What is taking place at Wormwood Scrubs is unacceptable, it is dangerous and Levin And hopes that this time Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, is listening.
Angela Levin was on the IMB from 2005 until resigning in March.
The number of suicides and murders in prisons in England and Wales has reached their highest levels in years according to figures released Monday by the Ministry of Justice.
There were four alleged murders in 2013, the highest rate since 1998, and 70 apparent suicides the highest number since 2008.
In February last year Subhan Anwar, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of his partner’s baby, was killed at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire. While in December Michael Hennesy died of stab wounds at Lindholme prison, South Yorkshire.
An inspection report of Lindholme in the summer of 2013 was very critical of safety measures in place. It found that more than a third of prisoners felt unsafe and that drugs and alcohol were freely available.
Many prisoners also have mental health problems for which they are not getting adequate treatment as services are scaled back to save cash. Sixty-two percent of male prisoners and 54 percent of female prisoners are classed as having a personality disorder.
The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust attributed the sharp rise in a reduction of resources allocated to prisons and a massive rise in the number of people being locked up.
Rob Preece, a spokesman for the Howard League, told RT that the worrying statistics were the result of a “toxic mix” of a rising prison population and cuts to prison budgets.
“The prison population now is twice as large as it was 20 years ago, at the same time you’re seeing a reduction in prison budgets,” he said.
A number of official inspection reports from prisons have pointed to a lack of purposeful activities for prisoners such as work or training, which means that larger numbers of inmates are cooped up in their cells for longer periods of time.
Preece put the blame for the crisis in British prisons firmly with successive governments.
“What we are now seeing is the effect of successive governments seeking to appear tough on crime by increasing sentence lengths. This has led to more people spending longer in prison and chronic overcrowding in our prison service,” said Preece.
Preece added that the vast majority of inmates in UK jails don’t need to be there and that many offenders could be better and more cheaply and safely dealt with by proper community programs, which would put people in a better position to find work and get training.
“If you reduce the regimes on offer and put ever more people behind bars I don’t think we should be surprised if violence and self-inflicted injury becomes more common,” he said.
A prison service spokesman told the Guardian that that they were “committed to keeping prisons safe and secure – this includes the number of deaths and applying strenuous efforts to learn from each one.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said that "every death is subject to an investigation by the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman as well as a coroner’s inquest.”
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