Last July the Prisons minister stated that jamming technology was vital for stopping the use of drones to smuggle items in and out of prison. The minister has had 5 months to work on the roll-out of this technology so I thought it was fair to ask how many prisons have this technology.
The answer I got was “not that many prisons”. The minister wants to learn from Guernsey prison to see how we roll this technology across the estate. The minister has had some time now to implement this and each day it is not in place the risk of phones, drugs and weapons being smuggled into our prisons increases.
During Justice Questions I asked the Secretary of State what action he is doing to reduce reoffending through employment.
I pointed out that the UK Government is the largest employer in the UK – be it through direct employment or contracts to the private sector. Often we hear of the UK Government calling on the private sector to employ ex-offenders, but we also need a strategy from the UK Government as well.
It is vital that we have an employment strategy for offenders in place so that we can cut the risk of them re-offending and help them rejoin society. If we fail this we will see a rotating door between prisons and our communities.
Rehabilitation of prisoners is one of the most important roles of our criminal justice system. But this important job was completely wrecked when the UK Government part-privatised rehabilitation companies. We are now footing a bill worth millions to unpick the damage done by the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, and the Government is scrabbling for ways to improve rehabilitation.
I pressed the Secretary of State on how the Government would turn around this disgraceful service and ensure that the privatised Community Rehabilitation Companies are either brought back into government control or fixed for a better deal for the taxpayers.
The dramatic rise in violent attacks on prison officers (a 23% rise in the last 12 months alone) is undermining the safety of our prisons and we need to see the roll-out of body worn cameras increased to keep our officers safe.
These attacks coincide with the significant rise in the use of drugs such as Spice in prisons – also known as New Psychoactive Substances. The Government needs to get a grip of the situation if not more violent attacks will take place.