Government Minister breaks ranks and admits prison system is in crisis

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties, has admitted publicly that the prison system is in crisis, making a break with government policy. Hughes made the remarks during an interview with the Independent newspaper, in which he criticised government policy as ‘knee-jerk’ and focused on placing a ‘sticking plaster’ on a crisis.

The public comments by a senior government minister reveal how much of a crisis the prison system is actually in. Hughes’ comments follow a range of criticisms made, not least by¬† the independent inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, whose annual report blamed policy pressures, staff shortages and overcrowding as causing a decline in prisoner safety. The Howard League for Penal Reform recently released findings that some prisons have seen a reduction in staffing of up to 40%, while violence has increased simultaneously.

Figures for re-offending released by the Ministry of Justice also reveal how for adults who have served less than 12 months in custody between January and December 2012, the re-offending rate was 57.6% – well over half.

Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling MP continues to deny there is a crisis, despite this recent outburst from a Minister in his own department.

Please sign our petition to stop Chris Grayling and Teresa May gambling with our justice system!

For the Independent newspaper article, please see ‘Grice, A. ‘Prisons Minister Simon Huhges hits out at Tories’ ‘sticking plaster solutions’ for jail crisis

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