The Chair of the Justice Select Committee and I successfully secured a debate in the Commons on the shocking state of our prisons. I focused my contribution on the safety of our prisons. This included deaths in prisons, self-harming, drug use and attacks on prison officers.
The statistics are clear for all to see: prisons in the UK have become more dangerous and less conducive to rehabilitation. The ultimate goal of our prisons should be to ensure that those convicted of crimes are turned into productive members of society. There will no doubt be a small, but significant. minority who will never be allowed to return to civil society and will remain in prison. But for the vast majority we must be able to provide them with education and skills to ensure that they never return to prison. But this needs a safe environment for the prisoners and the prison officers to fulfil that goal.
I put a number of questions to the minister which he needs to answer. There have been a number of moves taken by this Government which have undermined prison safety – such as the huge cuts to prison officer numbers. There was a unanimous voice from the Commons during the debate and it said the Government has failed to provide a prison service we can be proud of.