David Isaac, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said the use of Pava, a synthetic incapacitant pepper spray, to control behaviour in jails could cause pain and serious injury.
Rory Stewart, the prisons minister, announced on Tuesday that £2m would be spent on arming every officer in adult jails with Pava, after a pilot by the Prison Service.
Isaac said: “We understand that prison officers need methods to protect themselves and other prisoners but such protections must not be at the expense of the basic rights of prisoners. Everyone has the right to live without fear of inhumane treatment, and the use of Pava spray in a detention environment is a way of controlling behaviour that causes pain and can seriously injure.”
He said the EHRC wrote to and met the Prison Service last month to express its reservations about the rollout, and was disappointed there had been no further debate before the announcement.
“Making Pava spray available to every prison officer increases the risk that it might be used inappropriately,” Isaac said, adding that the EHRC would be asking the Prison Service again for information about the trial “so that we can assess the adequacy of the restrictions and safeguards for Pava spray’s use”.
Nick Hardwick, a former chief inspector of prisons, echoed Isaac’s concerns. “I heard today that staff are now going to be given pepper Pava sprays. What an admission of failure,” he told the annual conference of the Prison Governors’ Association.
'Bullying led to our daughter's prison suicide'
The parents of a jailed student have claimed bullying and "humiliating" strip searches led her to take her own life.
By BBC NEWS 25 Oct, 2018
Stuart and Linda Allan claim prison staff failed to heed warnings that their daughter Katie was "vulnerable" and had a history of self-harming.
Katie was jailed for 16 months in March for a hit-and-run crash while drunk.
The Glasgow University geography student, who was 20 at the time of the crash, died at Polmont Prison in June.
Her parents have now launched a campaign calling for changes to the way the legal system deals with mental health.
They also want the courts to be forced to look at alternative sentencing options.
Katie's mother Linda said: "How she could be strip-searched and they hadn't seen the self-harming injuries that Katie had is beyond us.
"We feel that Katie's death was self-inflicted but that she was murdered by the Scottish criminal justice system. They are ultimately responsible for it."
She added: "Katie absolutely broke the law, that is not in dispute. Katie pleaded guilty and fully accepted she should be punished, that also is not in dispute.
"What we didn't realise is that one impulsive decision would ultimately cost Katie her life. "The hardest thing for us to accept is how devastatingly Katie was let down by those that were ultimately responsible for her care."
"Some may say that Katie deserved what happened. She certainly deserved punishment.
"But this is Scotland, this is the 21st Century - what Katie did not deserve was the horrific experiences she endured daily at the hands of the Scottish Prison Service."
The hit-and-run incident, in which a 15-year-old boy was knocked down, happened in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, on 10 August last year.
Katie had downed four pints of beer before trying to drive home from a pub.
The student pleaded guilty at Paisley Sheriff Court to causing serious injury to the teenager by driving dangerously and driving more than four times above the legal alcohol limit.
Can football clubs help stop prisoners reoffending?
"A blessing that landed at my feet" - that's how Andrew describes the football coaching course he enrolled in during his time at Brixton Prison.
By Katie Wright 31 Oct, 2018
the 45-year-old, from north London - whose surname we've chosen not to reveal - was sentenced to five years in jail in 2015 for drug dealing.
Andrew says he was reaching crisis point as his release date neared - until Fulham's course came along.
"I love football, I play it all the time. At my age what a wonderful opportunity, because I couldn't think of a job I could see myself fitting into at this time of my life," he says.
"I'm not really that good at anything. I've got no qualifications. I couldn't see myself sitting in an office. This course was brilliant."
Andrew has a coaching role lined up once he has recovered from a stomach operation - and a chance of a career for the first time in his life.
He's also formed lasting relationships with the club staff, like employability officer Jim Hart, who keep him motivated.
He's currently learning about the business side of running a football club and will start his level two coaching course in January.
All of which Andrew is hoping will help him towards his dream of opening a soccer school.
It's opportunities like this that former FA and Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein is hoping can become the norm.
He's the man behind a new initiative - the Twinning Project - to pair every professional football club with their local prison to reduce reoffending by delivering coaching and refereeing courses.
At present, Dein says the offering is "patchy", but he wants to get at least 20 clubs signed up by the end of the year.
He's spoken to offenders in 106 jails and says: "In those prisons I've seen some stark stories where the prisoners are in a cell for 16 hours a day - there's low self esteem.
"Sport has got a big part to play."
Dein, 75, who spent four decades at the top of the game, believes his initiative will save the taxpayer £700,000 if just 20 offenders are rehabilitated.
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who spent two weeks in prison for a motoring offence, is fully behind the project.
He said: "We are not going to say it will save everybody that goes into the prison system, but there are people in there who are just waiting for an opportunity to try and change."
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says football clubs have been "super slow" to get involved in prisons but they have a "social responsibility" to do so.
Prison whistleblower loses unfair dismissal case
Tribunal rules against Diane Ward, who reported dangerous conditions at Nottingham jail
By Diane Taylor 24 Oct, 2018
A former prison officer who exposed escalating levels of violence and rampant drug use at HMP Nottingham has lost her claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
Diane Ward, 55, had 31 years’ service in the prison establishment. She claimed she was dismissed from her job because she had made 100 reports – known as security information reports – about large quantities of drugs being smuggled into the prison and about a breakdown in discipline, which she claimed left prisoners and officers unsafe.
But Judge James Tayler and a panel of two lay people at the London Central employment tribunal, dismissed Ward’s claim that she had been unfairly dismissed and found that she had been sacked because she had been diagnosed with work-related stress, which made it difficult for her to continue doing her job.
However, Tayler did uphold many of the reports she filed raising the alarm about conditions inside the jail. These are known as “protected disclosures”.
Ward told the Guardian she was likely to appeal against Wednesday’s decision.
She was diagnosed with cancer of the womb after her dismissal and said that getting the diagnosis made her more determined than ever to bring the case.
“I was preparing for this case after I had surgery and during my chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment,” she said.
Nottingham prison has been the subject of critical inspection reports and there have been several recent deaths of prisoners. Robert Frejus, 29, died at the prison earlier this month. In July, inmate Ferencz-Rudolf Pusok, 28, was charged with murder following the death of fellow prisoner 43-year-old Brett Lowe.
Paedophiles will not be housed at Hollesley Bay
Worried villagers were given the reassurance by prisons minister Rory Stewart
By Richard Cornwell 3 Nov, 2018
During a meeting with the minister, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey asked whether, at the very least, offenders with specific offences against children could be blocked from being housed at Hollesley Bay.
Dr Coffey said Mr Stewart had given assurances that no-one will be put into open conditions in Hollesley Bay if they possess a threat to the primary school.
The MP and the chairman and vice-chairman of Hollesley Parish Council, Helen Lewis and James Mallinder, were told the parole board would make a judgement and the Ministry of Justice then makes its own judgement before a decision is made.
It was also confirmed at the meeting that contrary to what was suggested at the recent public meeting over the issue, the prisoner population of Hollesley Bay would never become 100% sex offenders.
Dr Coffey said: “I thank the minister for listening, considering the close proximity to the primary school residents have legitimate concerns about sexual offenders being placed in open conditions and it was important to get answers from the minister.
“I understand why the Ministry of Justice are doing this, open prisons are extremely important in helping facilitate a prisoner’s transition back into normal life but I share local concerns, especially in relation to certain categories of sexual offender.”
Parish council chairman Helen Lewis said: “We appreciated very much the opportunity to meet with Therese Coffey and Rory Stewart at Parliament.
“We came away with a clearer understanding of the proposal for Hollesley Bay and were reassured that this is still under consultation.
“We ask that the concerns of the local community are considered as a priority. Please keep us informed at all times.”
One of the reasons for the change is the massive increase in the number of sex offenders in the prison system – up 4,000 in the past eight years.
People living around Hollesley Bay though have voiced concerns about the prospect of rapists, paedophiles and abusers living in their midst – particularly as a primary school is just a few hundred yards away.
Rising substance abuse is causing preventable deaths behind bars, says report
An epidemic of synthetic drugs in prisons is “completely out of control”
By Jamie Grierson 11 Oct, 2018
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) found inmates were dying preventably, particularly as a result of alarming levels of drug misuse behind bars.
In her annual report for 2017-18, acting PPO Elizabeth Moody highlighted the impact of psychoactive substances, formerly known as “legal highs”, such as spice, which is frequently cited as a major factor behind the prisons crisis in England and Wales.
Moody said at a briefing: “It’s completely out of control now in prisons – it’s so readily available.
“Prisons are struggling with the consequences of bad batches of psychoactive substances, which can result in simultaneous multiple collapses of prisoners, unsustainable demand on prison resources, ambulances queuing up at the prison gate and, all too often, death.
“This destructive epidemic of psychoactive substance use has become the ‘new normal’ in prisons.”
Moody called for a national strategy to tackle the problem as prisons are struggling to stop the substances getting in or reduce demand for them.
The ombudsman also raised concerns about the number of deaths it investigates in immigration removal centres and approved premises in which the drugs have played a part.
Approved premises, previously known as probation and bail hostels, hold individuals who require additional support and supervision in the community upon release from prison or while on bail or court orders.
The review said that while the widespread use of psychoactive substances in the prison estate was well-documented, the probation service needed to address the implications for the approved premises estate.
The ombudsman has reported a significant number of deaths where illicit drug use played a role.
These include accidental or deliberate overdoses, suicides precipitated by drug-related mood changes or in response to drug-related debts and bullying, and heart attacks and respiratory failure in apparently fit individuals.
Jails have emerged as a new frontline in fighting crime
prison walls alone are no longer effective in stopping criminals.
By Jamie Grierson 1 Nov, 2018
New technologies are helping organised criminals have devastating impact on prisoners, minister says. David Gauke said organised gangs and networks were treating prisons as lucrative and captive markets to push drugs, mobile phones and other contraband, creating “a thriving illicit economy”.
Addressing the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Gauke said there was a direct link between crime inside and outside prisons.
“I believe prisons have emerged as a new frontline in the fight against crime,” he said. “The fact is, new technology and sophisticated approaches mean that prison walls alone are no longer effective in stopping crime – inside or outside of prison.
“Offenders who commit crime in prison have a disruptive and often devastating impact on the prospects of those who are trying to turn their lives around and who see prison as a pivotal turning point in their lives.”
Gauke said recent successes in fighting organised crime behind bars included a joint operation by prison intelligence officers and police that broke up an organised crime gang that used drones to smuggle £1.2m worth of drugs, weapons and mobile phones into prisons across the UK.
In the last few weeks, Gauke said, 15 members of the same gang received prison sentences of up to 10 years.
The justice secretary last month announced a new financial investigations unit, which will aim to identify and disrupt organised crime gangs in prisons. The government is also spending £70m to improve the safety and stability of prisons, including equipment such as x-ray scanners to stem the influx of the drugs fuelling much of the violence.
Earlier at the APCC and NPCC summit, the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the UK was at risk of becoming a safe haven for organised criminals and terrorists under the government’s proposed terms to leave the European Union.
Sacked PCSO has now been kicked out of Lancashire's fire service
A FORMER police community support officer - sacked by Lancashire Constabulary after being arrested over alleged domestic violence - has now been dismissed by the county's fire service.
By Peter Magill 12 Oct, 2018
Paul Baden, then known as Paul McGladdery, hit the headlines in 2007 when he was questioned by colleagues on suspicion of attacking his then-partner.
An assault charge against the officer, which he denied, was eventually dropped by prosecutors when the case came to court.
But the incident was enough to merit the probationary PCSO, who covered the West Craven area, being kicked out of the force.
It has now emerged that McGladdery, who is understood to have subsequently changed his name to Baden, has also been booted out of the fire service. He is believed to be considering an appeal.
He is understood to have started out as a retained firefighter at Colne after he left the police.
Later he moved on to become full-time officer at Bacup, later transferring to work in Fleetwood.
Fire chiefs have declined to confirm the exact reasons behind Baden’s dismissal, but it is believed he has been suspended for the past seven months while the disciplinary process went on.
One source told the Lancashire Telegraph: “The brigade was warned by a fellow employee of the individual’s previous and ignored the facts.
"It has been a ridiculously drawn-out state of affairs which has been going for most of the year."
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that an individual had been subject to an internal disciplinary procedure which had resulted in his dismissal and which has a right of appeal.
Before he was taken on by Lancashire Police, he had previously worked as a lifeguard and football coach at Pendle Leisure Centre in Colne.
'I was treated like dirt': Former prison officer reveals how working conditions forced her to leave service
'I was told if you're not happy here, there's the door. There was no support, I'd never been so excited about a job but I came out of it feeling so hateful towards the service'
By May Bulman 30 Aug, 2018
Tess Wale had wanted to become a prison officer for years. At the age of 39, after having children, she was finally able to do the 10-week training course and qualify. On 29 May 2017, she drove to HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire for her first shift.
The Birmingham resident arrived on her first day to find that nobody was aware it was her start date. She was told to go home. On the second day, she was given a brief induction and sent straight to the wing.
"For my first few days on the wing, I didn't have any protection. I had no baton," she tells The Independent. "I was walking around with inmates who were in there for life for whatever crimes they had committed, without any form of protection."
Tess recalls that it took five months for her to be provided with her full uniform, which she says showed the general chaos in the jail. Within weeks, she became aware that her own safety and wellbeing were in constant jeopardy.
“I should have finished at 5pm one night, but alarm bells started going off," she remembers. "They had lost control of one of the wings. We weren’t allowed to leave the prison. I was there until 3:30 in the morning.”
A few months later, Tess became an innocent victim to the endemic drug use among prisoners in the jail. It began while she was carrying out accommodation fabric checks, going into each prisoners’ cell to do inspections.
"I opened one cell door at saw that the prisoner was off his head. As my duty of care to look after these men I put him back in his cell, sat him on his bed and told him not to move," she says.
"I could see him smoking tissue paper or something. It was spice. I inhaled it.”
Due to the spice inhalation, Tess suffered from headaches and feeling sick. After two days off work, she felt a lot better but still not well enough to drive. She was told that the prison would pay for her to get a taxi into work.
“It was £75 – but in the end they wouldn’t give it back to me.
PCSO saves bleeding man’s life with spoon and belt
community police officer saved a man from bleeding to death by using a spoon and a belt to staunch a serious wound'
By Press Assoc 10 Oct, 2018
PCSO Matthew Kieboom used the improvised tourniquet to stop the “catastrophic” blood loss after a man severely cut his hand and forearm.
The officer was on patrol in Cardigan, Mid Wales, when he noticed the injured man lying on the floor suffering 'uncontrollable bleeding' from injuries caused by smashed glass.
The Dyfed-Powys Police PCSO, who was previously deployed with the military in Iraq, wrapped his belt around the man’s arm and got a member of the public to fetch a spoon which he used to tighten the makeshift bandage and stop the bleeding.
HMP Lindholme prison officer 'strangled unconscious' by inmate
A prison officer was left unconscious after he was "strangled" by an inmate, a union has said.
By BBC NEWS 12 Oct, 2018
He was one of two officers assaulted in separate attacks at HMP Lindholme in Doncaster on Thursday night, the Prison Officers' Association (POA) said.
The other officer was "punched in the throat" and was recovering at home, POA chairman Mark Fairhurst said.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed a worker at the jail was attacked and an inmate had been segregated.
Following the attacks, staff refused to go back into the category C jail and staged a protest.
The POA said one of the officers "was strangled to the point of unconsciousness".
"Despite the seriousness of these unprovoked assaults the prisoners had to be put back in their own cells as the segregation unit was full, emphasising the problems at Lindholme," it said.
"Staff at Lindholme genuinely feared for their safety this morning and refused to enter the prison until safety assurances and plans were put in place."
Officers went back to work following a meeting with the governor.
Dangerous thug jailed for violent attack wants £25,000 'compensation' for delayed prison release
he has been awarded the right to damages by a High Court judge
By Joe Riddle 2 Oct, 2018
Daniel Bate, 32, was one of four thugs who left builder David Head unconscious with a broken jaw and smashed teeth outside his home in November 2006.
The 48-year-old died of a heart attack a month later – but his death was not linked to the attack.
Then 21, Bate, of Clarendon Road, Hove, was handed an indefinite prison sentence for the public’s protection in March 2008.
He was ordered to serve a minimum of three years and five months – but was only released last year, after acquiring and kicking a Spice habit while behind bars.
Now he has been awarded the right to damages by a High Court judge in a case that could kickstart a flood of other claims by prisoners whose Parole Board hearings were delayed.
He has successfully sued the Parole Board for “delayed liberty” and “frustration, anxiety and distress” caused by delays in his bid for release being heard.
That delay, top judge Lord Justice Holroyde has now ruled, was the result of “a serious backlog of work” at the Parole Board and “insufficiency of resources to enable it to deal with cases speedily”.
The damages Bate is due have yet to be calculated but, based on payouts made in similar cases, he could be entitled to more than £25,000.
Bate was convicted of wounding with intent and possession of class A drugs at Lewes Crown Court.
He had already been in custody for a year when sentence was passed and his minimum term expired in 2010. However, he was not released until a review of his case by the Parole Board in March 2017.
He later sued, claiming damages for nine months of delay in approving his release.
Bate suffers from mental health difficulties, including autism and mild learning difficulties.
One of the causes of delay was a shortage of Parole Board panel members with appropriate psychiatric experience.
Bate’s barrister Philip Rule claimed he was fit for release months before he was finally handed back his liberty.
Delays in Parole Board hearings caused by staff shortages were “a breach of duty which has serious consequences” he said.
The judge said that, between 18 months and two years ago, the Parole Board was struggling to cope due to lack of human resources and many prisoners had their hearings delayed.
He ruled Bate is entitled to compensation for two separate periods of delay before his final hearing. It means Bate is due a payout for “stress and anxiety” over four months, between March and June 2016.
prisoner who bullied his young girlfriend into trying to smuggle him £10,000 worth of drugs
Joe Garland, 31, from Bath, sentenced to four more years, at Exeter Crown Court.
By BBC NEWS 25 Oct, 2018
He organised the supply operation through text messages, arranging for friends to drive Chelsea Bennett, then 18, to Channings Wood jail in Devon.
She was caught when a sniffer dog indicated she might be carrying drugs.
An officer monitored the visit on CCTV and intervened after seeing her move something from her groin into a pocket.
The pair had been in a relationship for eight months when Bennett was found with crack cocaine and cannabis.
The text messages showed Garland had used emotional and financial pressure to bully her into the smuggling trip.
He admitted inciting Bennett to possess class A and B drugs with intent to supply.
Bennett, 19, of Chubb Close, Bristol, admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply and one of possession.
She was jailed for 20 months, suspended for two years, with 25 days' supervision.
Recorder Martin Meeke QC told Garland: "This was more serious than the average case because the drugs were being supplied into prison, where everyone knows they are an enormous scourge.
"I have seen the text correspondence and accept that Bennett was only 18 at the time and of good character and you persuaded her to act as she did."
The street value on the outside would have been about £2,400 but the drugs were worth up to £12,000 in prison.
Kenneth Bell, prosecuting, said Bennett visited Garland when he was serving a sentence at Channings Wood in July 2017.
He said: "She was escorted out and 21.85 grams of crack and 21.32 grams of cannabis were recovered."
Wakefield prison: 'Acute' mental health problems at jail
There are "totally unacceptable delays" in transferring mentally-ill prisoners from a high-security jail to secure accommodation, a report has found.
By BBC NEWS 1 Nov, 2018
The delays at HMP Wakefield are exacerbating some inmates' conditions, inspectors said.
Chief inspector Peter Clarke will now take the "unusual step" of making a recommendation directly to the prisons minister calling for action.
The government said the report would be used "to further develop" Wakefield.
The jail houses 700 men, including some of the most "challenging and complex prisoners", said the report.
Inmates - who have included Soham killer, Ian Huntley and Milly Dowler's murderer, Levi Bellfield - are mostly sex or violent offenders serving long or indeterminate sentences.
Mr Clarke said the problem in transferring prisoners with mental health issues to hospital was "not unique to Wakefield" but "yet another example" of inmates not receiving the care they needed.
The difficulty of dealing with prisoners with mental health problems was "acute" at Wakefield, he added.
Mr Clarke said his recommendation to the prisons minister would call for transfers to be completed under the Mental Health Act within a target of 14 days.
"Because of the totally unacceptable delays . . . many prisoners across the prison estate are held in conditions that are not in any way therapeutic and indeed in many cases clearly exacerbate their condition," he said. "This is a national strategic issue to which we have made reference many times."
Trans inmate jailed for Wakefield prison sex offences
A transgender prisoner who sexually assaulted two inmates at a women's jail and had previously raped two other women has been given a life sentence.
By BBC NEWS 11 Oct, 2018
Karen White attacked two women in 2017 while on remand at HMP New Hall, in Wakefield, for other offences.
White, 52, who is transitioning, was described as a "predator" who was a danger to women and children.
She must serve a minimum of nine-and-a-half years for rape, sexual assault and wounding, Leeds Crown Court was told.
The court heard White, who was born male and now identifies as a woman, used her "transgender persona" to put herself in contact with vulnerable women.
Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Batty said: "You are a predator and highly manipulative and in my view you are a danger.
"You represent a significant risk of serious harm to children, to women and to the general public."
White was on remand at HMP New Hall for other offences when she attacked the two women between September and October last year.
She was moved to a male prison after pleading guilty to the offences in September.
She also is highly unlikely to be moved back into a women's prison due to the risk she poses even if she were to be legally declared a woman, the BBC understands.
The court heard White has previous convictions for indecent assault, indecent exposure and gross indecency involving children, violence and dishonesty.
Prosecutor Christopher Dunn told the court: "She is allegedly a transgender female.
"The prosecution say allegedly because there's smatterings of evidence in this case that the defendant's approach to transitioning has been less than committed.
"The prosecution suggest the reason for the lack of commitment towards transitioning is so the defendant can use a transgender persona to put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse."
White, who was born Stephen Wood and is originally from the Manchester area, was first arrested last August after attacking a 66-year-old neighbour with a steak-knife in Mytholmroyd.
While on remand at HMP New Hall, she began gender re-alignment, wearing a wig, make-up and false breasts.
Prison worker on duty when man hanged himself dozed off
and rushed checks because she had diarrhoea
By Helen Johnson 31 Oct, 2018
A prison worker fell asleep on duty in the hours before a paranoid schizophrenic was found dead in his cell - and admitted at an inquest she was 'in a hurry' to complete morning checks because she had diarrhoea.
Bradley Brown, 32, was found hanged three days after being transferred to HMP Buckley Hall in Rochdale in August 2017.
A jury at a seven-day inquest into his death heard that the member of staff responsible for patrolling his cell block was caught sleeping during her night shift - around six hours before Bradley was discovered dead.
The same member of staff also failed to take action when she discovered, during her morning rounds, that Bradley had covered the viewing hatch into his cell with a towel.
The inquest heard that Lynn Kershaw, who was an operational support grade (OSG) - the rank below a prison officer - failed to tell any other colleagues that she had not been able to see or speak to Bradley to confirm he was safe and well.
She said that was because she was 'in a hurry' to complete her morning checks at the end of her shift - when Bradley was most probably dead - because she was was recovering from a stomach bug and had the runs.
The jury was asked to consider if Ms Kershaw's failure to stay awake, along with a series of other failings, contributed to Bradley's death.
Fracking activists to appeal against prison sentences
Three activists were first people to receive jail terms for anti-fracking protests in UK
By Frances Perraudin 5 Oct, 2018
Three environmental activists who became the first people to be jailed for an anti-fracking protest in the UK are to appeal against their sentences amid growing anger over their “excessive and extraordinary” punishments.
Last week, Simon Roscoe Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, were sentenced to 16 months in prison, and Richard Loizou, 31, was given 15 months after a jury at Preston crown court convicted them of causing a public nuisance.
The men were charged after taking part in a four-day protest that blocked a convoy of trucks carrying drilling equipment from entering the Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool in July last year.
Kirsty Brimelow QC, the head of the international human rights team at Doughty St Chambers, who is leading the appeal on a pro bono basis, said: “We are applying to the court of appeal for expedition of the appeal. We are fortunate in this country that there is this option. The core submission in this case was made at Preston crown court – that it is wrong to lock up peaceful protesters.”
On Saturday, friends, family and supporters of the three men will stage a solidarity demonstration outside HMP Preston, where they are being held. Planton Loizou, a former tour operator and the father of Richard Loizou, will attend his first political protest in more than 40 years.
“It’s pointless putting them in prison, because what this has done is turn me and his mother and the rest of the family into activists,” he said. “I was a Conservative through and through for the first 32 years of my voting life. My wife wasn’t and I didn’t listen to her and that was a mistake.”
Rosalind Blevins, a former scientific researcher, said she had been expecting her son, Simon, to receive a fine or community service. “He didn’t hurt anyone, assault anyone, intimidate anyone or even verbally abuse anyone, nor did he damage any property,” she said. “I’m proud of him for daring to stand up for what he believes in. I know him to be a fundamentally good person.”
Preston New Road has been a focal point for protests since October 2016, when the government overturned a decision by Lancashire county council and gave the energy firm Cuadrilla consent to extract shale gas at two wells on the site.
More than 300 protesters have been arrested there since Cuadrilla began building a fracking pad in January 2017. The company said on Friday that fracking would start next week, but the high court issued an injunction blocking the work from getting under way until a hearing on Wednesday.
Gang sentenced for using drones to drop drugs in prisons
The investigation is believed to be the biggest ever of its kind in UK policing, ending with 12 men and one woman sentenced.
By Becky Johnson 26 Oct, 2018
Seven members of a gang which used drones to drop half a million pounds worth of drugs into prisons have been given jail terms ranging from three to 10 years.
Six others involved in the plot were given suspended jail terms and a community order.
The sophisticated operation was headed by 31-year-old Lee Anslow who orchestrated around half of the flights from behind bars at HMP Hewell in Worcestershire.
When police searched his cell they found drugs with an estimated prison value of £20,000. The value of drugs in prison is around four times the street value.
They also discovered fake food cans containing phones and a list of contact numbers.
A set of digital scales used to weigh drugs were also discovered hidden inside the bottom of a tub of Nesquik.
Anslow was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
24-year-old Brandon Smith from Tipton was the primary pilot at the controls of at least 30 of the drone deliveries.
He was the pilot of the first drone to be seized near HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton on 7 May 2016.
It was carrying 80g of synthetic cannabis and two mobile phones.
A second drone was found crashed at HMP Hewell on 15 October 2016. Another was recovered after it crashed on 10 December 2016 outside HMP Birmingham. It was carrying 200g of spice, two phone and ten SIM cards.
Smith was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Other drone pilots were Justin Millington, 24, jailed for three years and four months, and Paul Payne, 33, jailed for three years and eight months - minus 83 days served on remand.
Paul Ferguson and Stefan Rattray were inmates who distributed drugs in prisons. They were given jail sentences of four years and nine months, and four years and six months, respectively.
Killer who murdered pensioner was set free from prison
despite stabbing girlfriend and taking drugs from inside her body as she died
By Thomas Deacon 2 Nov, 2018
In 2008 Jonathan Donne killed his partner and was jailed indefinitely but 10 years later he was free to beat a pensioner to death
In the early morning of May 16, 2008, a caretaker at a council block of flats in Swansea saw a trail of blood stretching down two floors.
At the same time an "agitated and crying" figure - who he would later know as Jonathan Donne - was seen walking down the stairs with another man.
Spotting Donne's bloodstained hands, the caretaker immediately contacted the police.
When two officers arrived at the council flat in Griffith John Street in the city's Brynmelyn area they discovered the body of Michelle Harkett, Donne's partner who he had stabbed to death after a row over drugs.
After knifing her in the chest, he had left her to die - but only after helping himself to a package of heroin she had concealed in her private parts.
Donne pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and the then 31-year-old was jailed indefinitley.
now, more than 10 years later, Donne has this week been sentenced to at least 31 years in jail after he tied up and beat a pensioner to death in his own home after planning to steal from his victim.
During the robbery, the killer tied 67-year-old John Williams' hands behind his back and brutally kicked and punched him as he lay helpless on the floor.
Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service is now investigating the case to "ensure any mistakes are not repeated” after Donne was able to kill again, so soon after being jailed indefinitely for another horrific crime.In March, 2008 Swansea Crown Court heard the brutal story of Michelle Harkett's death.
Both Donne and his 36-year-old victim were addicts.
Harkett died after arming herself with two knives in a row over drugs.
Donne had disarmed the mum-of-four and then stabbed her to death in their living room.
Chelmsford prison: Suicide failures at jail 'dismally regular'
A prison with one of the highest rates of suicide makes "the same systemic failings with dismal regularity", the director of a charity has said.
By BBC NEWS 16 Oct, 2018
HMP Chelmsford has had at least seven suicides since the start of 2016, with the most recent being on 16 September, according to INQUEST.
Deborah Coles, from the charity, said the deaths highlighted problems in self-harm and mental health awareness.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said it gave staff "specialist training".
Last week, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, said he had seriously considered invoking the Urgent Notification protocol at the Essex prison, requiring the Justice Secretary to step in.
His inspection highlighted an increase in violence, suicides, availability of drugs and unacceptable living conditions.