select for full details Prison officer set upon by three inmates in Lewes Prison is hospitalised
The male officer, in his early 30s, was jumped by three inmates at Lewes Prison on Wednesday morning
By Ben Leo 19 September, 2014
Sources at the prison said the officer was with a female colleague when three inmates were told they were about to be searched after acting suspiciously.

The inmates attacked the male officer, who has been working at the prison for about six years, while the female officer ran for help.

The victim was taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, for treatment to facial injuries.

A source at the prison said: “He is a really nice guy and will be absolutely gutted by what has happened. “He and another officer saw a group of guys acting suspiciously and asked to search them. They then went for him. It’s such a shame.”

The attack comes after The Argus revealed how serving officers and inmates were concerned that staff shortages at the prison were sparking increased levels of violence.

Last week, an inmate said prisoners were spending longer in their cells because there wasn’t enough staff to cater for them all – fuelling inmate frustration and violent behaviour.

In recent weeks, Lewes Prison governor Nigel Foote announced his resignation amid the allegations and Lewes MP Norman Baker told The Argus he had written to the Prisons Minister for answers.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prison staff do an excellent job and their safety and security is of paramount importance. Anyone who is violent towards them – or anyone else in prison – can expect to face severe consequences.

“We have referred this incident to the police and are helping them with their enquiries. We always press for the most serious charges to be laid against anyone violent in prison.”

Since 2000, 264 separate incidents of assaults on staff have been recorded in Lewes Prison – averaging more than one-and-a-half a month.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “At 9.45am on Wednesday, police were informed that a prison officer had been assaulted by a prisoner at HMP Lewes. Detectives are working with the prison management to investigate the circumstances.”

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Delay to Downview prison opening due to 'lack of prisoners'
A new men's resettlement prison may not now open until next year as there are already enough prison places for inmates, according to the Government.
By Hardeep Matharu 15 September, 2014
Downview prison, next to High Down, in Sutton Lane, Banstead, closed as a women’s prison last October.

In May, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it would re-open as an adult male Category C resettlement prison by October.

The MoJ submitted a planning application earlier this year to Reigate and Banstead Council to build a new education centre at Downview so prisoners can "use their time in custody constructively" and "learn new skills and gain qualifications before their release".

But when asked by the Epsom Guardian this week when Downview would be re-opening, a MoJ spokesman said: "We monitor prison population fluctuations and accommodation needs constantly.

"Currently we do not need to open Downview in October and expect to open it later in the year or early in the new year - contributing to our overall approach to drive down costs.

"All work at the prison remains on target to be delivered by the end of this year."

When asked to confirm that Downview will not be opening by October because there are not enough prisoners to be housed there, rather than there not being enough prison officers to be redeployed to Downview, the spokesman said: "We do not need to open Downview at this time as we have sufficient places."

Resettlement prisons are designed to help prisoners, particularly those who have been serving longer sentences, prepare for release.

They form an important part of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s plans for a "rehabilitation revolution" in the country’s prison estate by creating a nationwide ‘through the prison gate’ support service for offenders from custody into the community.

Category C prisoners are those who cannot be trusted in open conditions, but are unlikely to try to escape.

As part of the resettlement arrangements, some prisoners are able to go out to training or work from

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select for full details Crown Office employee Iain Sawers guilty of leaks
Iain Sawers, 25, from Edinburgh, was found guilty at the end of a seven-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
By BBC NEWS 5 September, 2014
A jury found him guilty on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, the Official Secrets Act and nine under the Data Protection Act.

The sheriff said he was considering imposing a custodial sentence.

Sentence was deferred until 19 September. Sawers was bailed.

Sawers joined the Productions Office of the Procurator Fiscal Service in Chambers Street in the city in 2008.

His induction covered security of information and the warning that any breach could lead to disciplinary proceedings. He was also told, under the Official Secrets Act, the unauthorised disclosure of documents was an offence.

The offences by Sawers came to light when police began an investigation into the case of 27-year old Calum Stewart on charges of breach of bail and attempting to pervert the course of justice by threatening his ex-partner, Kelli Anne Smillie, if she gave evidence in a trial in July, 2013.

Stewart paid for her and her mother to leave the country and go on holiday to Benidorm on the week of the trial.

The police investigations led them to a number of phone calls and text messages between Stewart and Sawers between 24 and 29 January 2014.

These led to Stewart phoning Kelli Anne threatening her and her mother. They were to be witnesses in the outstanding trial which has since been deserted by the Crown.

The police also recovered Sawers' iPhone. Although many messages had been deleted, forensic experts were able to recover them and the telephone numbers of the senders and receiver. They showed that between April 2008 and January 2014, Sawers had passed on information to other people on nine occasions.

A check on the productions office computer showed shortly after receiving a call, Sawers' secret personal user number was used to access the information.

The jury also found Stewart guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and breach of bail. Neither men gave evidence during the trial.

In his closing address to the jury, Fiscal Depute, Keith O'Mahony told them: "This trial is about you as members of the public, who at some time in the future may be the victim of a crime.

"If you are, you will go to the police and they will bring the case to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

"When you report that case you must have confidence your details - name, address, date of birth and telephone number will be kept safe, secure and confidential and not disclosed to others, particularly to people who may wish to harm you."

select for full details Two men deny Barlinnie Jail governor murder plot
Anton Duffy, 38, and John Gorman, 57, allegedly planned to kill Derek McGill, governor of Barlinnie Jail in Glasgow, between June 2012 and October last year
By THE SCOTSMAN 16 September, 2014
Prosecutors say the pair got others to carry out surveillance on Mr McGill to identify his home and car with the intention of making him the target of a car bomb or a similar attack.

Duffy and Gorman are also accused of conspiring to murder two other men, John Adair and Samuel McCrory, between August 2010 and October 2013.

Martin Hughes, 35, and Paul Sands, 31, are alleged to have assisted on the second charge.

The four men, who deny all the charges, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow today.

They are all accused of planning to carry out terrorist acts by procuring vehicles, explosives and firearms including a Type 56 assault rifle.

The charge alleges they recruited individuals and communicated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Real IRA.

They are accused of carrying out, and getting others to carry out, surveillance on prison officers, Mr McGill and “individuals perceived by you to belong to, or who you believed had an association with, loyalist organisations, namely Samuel McCrory and John Adair.”

The preparation is alleged to have been carried out at various locations in Glasgow, including Central station and Buchanan Galleries and at sites in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire.

Three other men appeared in court in connection with the case.

Craig Convery, 36, and Gary Convery, 34, are accused of directing a number of individuals to commit drugs and firearms offences.

Gordon Brown, 29, is alleged to have agreed with the two men “to do something you knew or suspected would enable or further the commission of serious organised crime”.

They deny the charges.

A further hearing will take place in November

select for full details Apple’s iOS 8 is so secure, even the police can’t get hold of your personal details
In an open letter to customers, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook announced the firm has changed the way encryption works in iOS 8.
As a result the company can no longer bypass a user’s passcode, making it impossible for it to hand over data to law enforcement officers and governments

By Victoria Woollaston 18 September, 2014
This is the case, even if a search warrant is served on the firm or customer.

These new rules, however, only apply to data stored on the device, locked by a passcode, and Apple will be able to access data stored on iCloud if presented with a warrant for it.

And because these new features only apply to iOS 8, data can be extracted where necessary on devices running older versions of the software, from iOS 4 to iOS 7, as has always been the case.

The announcement is part of a wider privacy and security push being made by Apple to protect its users.

In the letter, on Apple’s new Privacy page, Mr Cook wrote:

‘At Apple, your trust means everything to us.

'We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why.

‘A few years ago, users of internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.

‘But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.’

According to the new privacy site, on devices running iOS 8, personal data including photos, messages - including attachments - email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders are placed under the protection of a user’s passcode.

‘Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,’ continued the firm.

‘So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.’

And as part of Apple’s updated Legal Process Guidelines, used by the police and governments, the firm said: ‘For all devices running iOS 8.0 and later versions, Apple will no longer be performing iOS data extractions as the data sought will be encrypted and Apple will not possess the encryption key

select for full details Police chief urges: Help addicts more and legalise heroin
Heroin should be decriminalised and the vilification of addicts must end as the ‘war on drugs’ has failed, a senior police figure has claimed.
By METRO NEWSPAPER 4 September, 2014
After ‘decades of failure’, the government needs to rethink its policies, stated Durham’s police and crime commissioner, Ron Hogg.

‘We need a new approach; one that treats addicts as patients who need treatment, rather than criminals who need locking up,’ he wrote in The Northern Echo.

‘I call for the government to decriminalise addiction and support recovery. Isolation and persecution of addicts is uncivilised, unsuccessful and too often wholly unaddressed.’

Mr Hogg said decriminalisation would rid Britain’s streets of heroin, prevent fatal overdoses and stop drug dealers from preying on the addicted while lining their own pockets.

He also suggested we follow the lead of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland and introduce drug consumption rooms where addicts, could ‘be saved’ by being given controlled doses of diamorphine.



Simon Fraser · Top Commenter · Works at Student
Well done metro. There is a big difference between legalisation and decriminalisation. It does not mean that they are legal, rather that you will not be treated like a criminal if you have a small amount in you for personal use.
September 4 at 9:01am


Lee Brandley · Colchester, Essex
Look at the results in Canada; Denmark; Germany; Australia etc.. is it working, have the figures lowered of fatal overdoses; crime waves; drug dealing arrests; etc.. then follow suit. Can't be any more of a failure than the present way of treating the disease of addiction. At last! A copper with a modicum of common sense. :)
September 7 at 12:33am


Wurz Gummeridge · Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Absolutely and totally agree that we should decriminalise heroin and other drug addiction, an instant blow on organised crime. At last, a Police and Crime Commissioner who isn't afraid to stand up and say what so many are thinking.
September 6 at 8:39pm


Tony Paterson · Glasgow, United Kingdom
I kinda agree with this. If supply = demand then there will always be illegal heroin dealers. You can disrupt the flow of cash to criminal organisations that are in control of the supply by offering controlled access to it for recovery purposes.
If I remember correctly heroin is also a lot safer than methadone, which is also addictive and can be deadly without warning, even in controled doses. If I'm still remembering correctly, methadone is also way more expensive than heroin too.
I don't think it is a problem that will be solved over night but I do think that this is a good way of disrupting the status quo as it is now.
September 4 at 10:04am


Lynny Hartley · St georges church of england school
youve got to be kidding me
September 4 at 6:59pm

select for full details Sunderland prisoner dies in jail
After trying to smuggle drugs to ferry arsonist
By Sunderland Echo 16 September, 2014
A SUNDERLAND man has died at Durham Prison less than a week after starting a sentence for a drug offence.

The Echo reported last week that Kevin Forster had been jailed for trying to take drugs to ferry arsonist Boden Hughes, who is on remand in the same prison.

On Sunday, Forster, 32, was found ill in his cell at about 6am and died 90 minutes later.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “HMP Durham prisoner Kevin Forster was found to be unwell around 6am on Sunday, September 14.

“Paramedics attended, but he was pronounced dead at 7.31am.

“As with all deaths in custody, the independent prisons and probation ombudsman, Nigel Newcomen, will conduct an investigation.”

Forster, of Ethel Terrace in Castletown, was sentenced to eight weeks in jail at Durham Crown Court for taking a prohibited article into prison.

During the hearing, Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said: “Hughes was on remand in Durham Prison at the time.

“He also drew attention to the situation by running away from the visiting room table.

“Forster was taken to a separate room, where prison officers found a small package containing four buprenorphine tablets. These have a high value in prison.”

Judge Robert Adams said: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not send you to custody, even if only for a short time.

“A message needs to be sent to others tempted to behave in the way you did.”

An investigation into his death will be now be carried out by the ombudsman.

Hughes, 26, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, admits setting fire to his cabin on a DFDS ferry as it was sailing from North Shields to Amsterdam on December 28 last year.

He is due to be sentenced later this month.

Meanwhile .... in IRELAND
By Liam Heylin on 17 September, 2014 select for full details

A prisoner yesterday had four months jail added to his sentence after assaulting a prison officer with a slap across the face.

Judge Con O’Leary refused an application to make the sentence concurrent with a long sentence being served by the prisoner.

“If you assault a prison officer you have to expect a consecutive sentence,” the judge said.

“Otherwise prisoners could assault prison officers every day without an expectation of having their time in prison extended.”

James Cash, of 50 Cherrywood Park, Clondalkin, Dublin, was serving six years for burglaries when the assault was committed on January 20 at Cork Prison.

William Bulman, defending, asked if the sentence could be made concurrent given the lengthy sentence being served. Cash had a sentence of seven years with the last year suspended.

The judge refused the bid and made the four-month sentence consecutive.

Inspector Mary King told Cork District Court the offence occurred on a landing at Cork Prison where Cash hit prison officer Brendan McGrath across the face.

The officer was not physically injured. He made a complaint to gardaí who prosecuted the case.

Mr Bulman said in mitigation the defendant pleaded guilty, apologised, and was also punished within the prison system in that he lost all privileges for 42 days.

The defendant also ended up being transferred from Cork Prison to Mountjoy as a result of the assault.

select for full details Hexham MP Guy Opperman speaks out in defence of HMP Northumberland
A Northumberland MP has spoken out in favour of an under fire prison described by some staff as a ‘tinderbox’.
By Will Metcalfe 15 September, 2014
Hexham MP Guy Opperman defended HMP Northumberland after weeks of criticism from unions and probation staff.

Government officials from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) this month visited the jail after a string of incidents prompted safety concerns.

But Mr Opperman spoke out in the House of Commons to defend the Category C prison, telling his fellow MPs to stop ‘sniping’ at both the prison and its staff.

A former barrister, the Tory MP said he had visited countless prisons while working as a lawyer.

And, accompanied by justice secretary Chris Grayling, he was among a delegation to tour the prison earlier this summer.

He said: “When I met the management and individual prison officers this summer, I was impressed by their hard work, dedication and commitment to the prison.

“Does the Minister agree that we should get behind them and not endlessly snipe at the prison and its staff?”

Mr Opperman said after the debate that he believes staff at the jail are doing a “really good job”.

That is despite concerns which have been raised by probation workers’ union NAPO about a 39% reduction in the number of staff from 441 in 2010 to 270 in 2013.

Probation officers have already warned they are fearful of paying visits there, while one prison worker described it as a “powder keg waiting to explode” and another said staff are “nervous for their safety”.

The jail was taken over by Sodexo in December 2013 as part of a new wave of commercially operated jails.

Mr Opperman said: “I visited the prison with the Secretary of State for Justice and others and I met many of the officers, and the governor Matt Spence and all his deputies.

“I was really impressed by the commitment of the governor and his team, and the prison officers.

“They are doing a really good job.”

Sodexo have repeatedly insisted the prison is well run, saying: “Safety and security of prisoners, staff and visitors is always a priority for Sodexo Justice Services, as independent reports in each of our prisons by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons demonstrate.”

Mr Opperman was the first MP in 60 years to write a book on prison reform.

He added: “Last year I wrote a book on prison reform called ‘Doing Time’, it was the first book written in the last 60 years by an MP on prison reform

select for full details Ex-High Down officer writes book about life behind the prison gate
An ex-prison officer has called on Chris Grayling to spend a month working in a prison after penning a book about his experiences.
By Hardeep Matharu 16 September, 2014
Dominick Bryant, 53, who worked at High Down, in Banstead, from 2006 to 2008, has just published an account of his time at the prison, as well as at Downview and Brixton prisons and Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution - Irish Eyes: Behind HM Prison Walls, United Kingdom.

Mr Bryant, from Ireland, said the personal issues he faced on the inside compelled him to speak out about life behind the prison gate.

"I always wanted to be a prison officer. It was a dream come true," he said.

"I treated prisoners the way I would like to be treated.

"This probably came from my Irish upbringing and knowing right from wrong.

"I had four sisters and knew respect and was encouraged to understand about what goes on in other people’s lives."

Although Mr Bryant worked at High Down before Epsom and Ewell’s MP, Mr Grayling, was appointed Justice Secretary and introduced substantial cuts to staff numbers and a tougher prison regime, he said the numbers of prison officers on a landing were already beginning to be drastically cut.

He said: "Someone like Chris Grayling should go into a prison and work there for a month to see what really goes on.

"People in power don’t live in the real world.

"I believe a prison governor should run the establishment. They come from the shop floor.

"Now they have to do what head office tells them which is 'cut, cut, cut'.

select for full details Prisoner suicides: the dire cost of Tory tough-guy posturing on crime
Overcrowding, understaffing and lack of care have implications far beyond the walls of our cruel jails.
By Zoe Williams 15 September, 2014
I have disagreed with him more strongly, but I have never felt so philosophically different from David Cameron as when he said the idea of prisoners voting made him “physically ill”. I’m pretty sure it’s a political confection, the visceral hatred of criminals this government exhibits. It doesn’t indicate any serious reflection on who is actually in prison, what happens to them during their sentence, or what it will take for society to reabsorb them when they’re released. It’s there to establish their credentials as men – tough, morally certain and on the side of right. It’s crude and trivial minded, yet its consequences are showing in the most profound events.

Ken Clarke made genuine efforts to reduce prison numbers; professionals said at the time that it was the first time in years they’d had a justice secretary who understood the prison estate and what it needed. Clearly that was a PR disaster for the Conservatives, for whom “understanding” is a dirty word; Chris Grayling, his replacement, seems to take a kind of giddy delight in how little he comprehends of a business before “reforming” it.

As a direct result of his policies and tough-guy posturing, the number of prisoners increases every week. It even went up in August, which is unheard of because courts are on holiday. Suicides have gone up by 64%. Everybody knows what causes suicides in prison. Too many inmates have mental health problems and shouldn’t even be in prison in the first place. Had the sentencing magistrate been better trained, or simply more sensitive, they would have been handed a community sentence and stood a chance of getting the healthcare they needed (though, considering the underfunding of mental health services, not a very strong chance). However, that has long been the case. The recent change to explain this spike is overcrowding and understaffing. Wandsworth prison four years ago was a huge success story of modern jailcraft – it had a flagship education system, award-winning sex offender rehabilitation programmes and responsive, highly trained prison officers. In 2010 it had 427 officers; this June it had 260, to manage 1,634 prisoners. Four men have killed themselves since the beginning of the year. Frances Crook, from the Howard League charity, calculated by the Ministry of Justice’s own data that Grayling had cut staff by a third since he took over. The average local prison now has one officer for every 150 prisoners.

One appalling detail is that all deaths have shot up, even deaths from illness. Heart attacks that needn’t be fatal are, because there aren’t the staffing levels to get people to hospital in time. The NHS has contracts

select for full details Prison vote ban 'breached rights'
Denying the vote to a group of prisoners was a breach of human rights, although no compensation or costs should be paid, European judges have ruled.
By Burnley & Pendle Citizen 12 August, 2014
The case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerned 10 prisoners who were unable to vote in elections to the European Parliament on June 4 2009.

The ECHR ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - right to a free election.

Judges said they reached this conclusion as the case was identical to another prisoner voting case in the UK, in which the blanket ban was deemed a breach.

The court rejected the applicants' claim for compensation and legal costs.

The judges said they had recognised recent steps taken in the UK with the publication of a draft bill and the report of the Joint Committee on Prisoner Voting Rights appointed to examine the bill, which came back with a key recommendation to allow prisoners who were serving 12 months or less to be eligible to vote.

However, as the legislation remained unamended, the Court concluded there had been a violation of the convention.

However, the Government has escaped the prospect of having to make pay-outs in hundreds of similar cases before the ECHR in light of the ruling on compensation and legal costs.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: " The Government has always been clear that it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK."

He added: "The Government is reflecting on the report from the Joint Committee on Prisoner Voting Rights and is actively considering its recommendations.

"This is not a straightforward issue and the Government needs to think carefully about the recommendations, which included new options for implementation."

In 2005, the ECHR in Strasbourg ruled that the UK's ban on prisoners voting was unlawful following a claim made by convicted killer John Hirst.

But, in 2011, MPs voted by an overwhelming 234 to 22 to preserve the ban, in spite of the ECHR ruling.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling published a draft bill in 2012 offering MPs three options - giving the vote to prisoners serving less than four years, or less than six months, or keeping the ban.

The joint committee put forward a fourth option - c alling on the Government to table a Bill granting the vote in local, general and European elections to those serving less than 12 months or within six months of release, with exceptions for those convicted

select for full details Concerns raised at prison staffing levels following trouble at Stockton jail
A UNION leader has blamed Government staff cuts for unrest at a North-East prison that led to one inmate being taken to hospital.
By Chris Webber 12 September, 2014
About six prisoners were involved in the trouble at Holme House Prison near Stockton which happened at about 6pm on Thursday night but was contained within 45 minutes.

Details about exactly what caused the trouble have not been released.

However, Mike Quinn, vice-chairman of the National Association of Probation Officers Northumbria branch, whose members supervise prisoners in the prison, said staff cuts were worrying.

It has been reported that there is now one prison officer for 30 inmates following “significant” staff reductions.

Mr Quinn said: “Thursday evening’s disturbance at HMP Holme House reminds us that prisons across the North-East are under pressure, and it can't be a coincidence that this is at a time of cuts by the Government across the whole of the criminal justice system.

“We should take this moment to remember the important and challenging job prison and probation staff undertake within prisons to keep people safe in custody, and prepare them for release.

"It's ironic that this is a job being made even more difficult by a so called Justice Secretary who bans books in prison and wants to sell off Probation in Durham and Teesside to companies like Sodexo, who made huge staff cuts at HMP Northumberland.”

Mr Quinn was backed by Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham, who said: “I am concerned that right across the prison estate there are fewer staff to maintain order and the system seems to be under considerable pressure.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “This was an isolated incident that was quickly resolved and had nothing to do with staffing levels.”

He added that Holme House’s own prison staff contained the incident.

select for full details Man caught smuggling drugs to Sunderland ferry arsonist in prison
Kevin Forster was seen behaving suspiciously during the visit, Durham Crown Court heard.
By Sunderland Echo 11 September, 2014
“Hughes was on remand in Durham Prison at the time,” said Peter Sabiston, prosecuting.

“He also drew attention to the situation by running away from the visiting room table.

“Forster was taken to a separate room where prison officers found a small package containing four buprenorphine tablets. These have a high value in prison.”

Forster, 32, of Ethel Terrace, Castletown, Sunderland, admitted taking a prohibited article into prison. Susan Hirst, defending, said: “This offence does not show him as a good role model, but he is normally a dedicated dad.”

Judge Robert Adams jailed Forster for eight weeks.

He said: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not send you to custody, even if only for a short time.

“A message needs to be sent to others tempted to behave in the way you did.”

Hughes, 26, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, admits setting fire to his cabin on a DFDS ferry as it was sailing from North Shields to Amsterdam on December 28, last year.

He is due to be sentenced later this month

Investigation launched as remand prisoner found hanged in cell at Merseyside's Altcourse prison
Roy Hoey, 20, was remanded on GBH, false imprisonment and threat to kill charges.
By John Siddle 12 September, 2014
An investigation was underway today at a privately-run Merseyside jail after a young prisoner was found hanged on an induction wing.

select for full details Roy Hoey, 20, was discovered in his cell by guards at Altcourse prison, near Fazakerley, last Thursday.

The Waterloo man had been placed on remand after being charged by police with grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment and making a threat to kill.

It was today claimed that Hoey had been dead “for some time” before prison officers found him in his cell at the 5am roll check.

An independent investigation is to take place to assess the circumstances of his death.

The prisons and probation ombudsman will look at whether Mr Hoey could have been discovered – and potentially helped – earlier.

A source told the ECHO that the talk among prisoners was that crucial cell checks may not have been done.

They said: “If the staff had done the checks they were meant to he would have been found sooner than he was.

“They were saying he was dead for a few hours. It’s so sad. He seemed fine in the day, playing with the other lads in the wing.”

A file has been passed to the coroner over the death in the G4S-run prison’s Melling wing – an induction wing for newly-received prisoners and young offenders.

Prisoners thought to be at risk of suicide or self-harm are supposed to be checked on a 15-minute basis. It is not known if Mr Hoey, formerly of Walmer Road, had been deemed a risk.

Merseyside Police were made aware of the death, which is not being treated as suspicious. A file has been passed to the coroner and the charges against Hoey formally discontinued at Liverpool Crown Court.

A prison service spokesman confirmed: “HMP Altcourse prisoner Roy Hoey was found unresponsive in cell at 5.15am on Thursday, September 4 and pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

“As with any death in custody, an investigation will be conducted by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

HMP Altcourse, a category B prison contains around 1,000 prisoners. It was recently exposed as being among one of Britain’s most dangerous

select for full details Murderer and robber sent explosives from inside prison
Bret Atkins and Jamie Snow smirked as their jail sentences were increased for the race-hate campaign they orchestrated from inside a top security jail.
By Daily Telegraph 4 September, 2014
A murderer and a robber who sent crude explosive devices from the segregation unit of a top security jail to Asian solicitors as part of a race-hate campaign have had their prison sentences increased.

Bret Atkins, 24, and Jamie Snow, 27, smirked and laughed as a judge at Leeds Crown Court was told how they constructed basic incendiary devices made from crushed match heads in their cells at Full Sutton prison, near York, and sent them to law firms in Halifax and Nottingham.

Despite Atkins and Snow appearing by videolink from different prisons - Whitemoor and Wakefield - the two managed to exchange smiles with each other as details of their racist messages were read to the court.

Atkins - who is serving a life term with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering a man in Hull in 2009 - grinned even though his barrister told the judge he had converted to Islam since arriving at Whitemoor.

Judge Rodney Jameson handed down a seven year prison sentence to Atkins, who was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of conspiracy to send an explosive substance with intent to burn.

The judge ordered this to start 18 months before the end of his current 20 year minimum term and said this would have the effect of increasing the minimum term of his life sentence to 22 years.

Snow, who is originally from Leeds, was serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possessing a firearm with intent when he sent the letters.

He was given an extended sentence of six years and three months after admitting offences of sending an explosive substance with intent to burn and making threats to kill. The judge said the extended part of the sentence meant he will be on licence five years after he is released.

Atkins admitted murdering 35-year-old Simon Ash in Hull in 2009.

A judge at the time said he and another man had ''callously and cold-bloodedly'' killed Mr Ash, who was walking alone.

They kicked him and stamped on his head so hard that an imprint of Atkins's shoe was left on his face.

Devices were sent by the pair but, the court heard, they were intercepted before they reached their intended targets.

The judge was told that both men had a "shared racial hatred" of Asian people and had threatened to kill Asian prisoners, attack the imam at Full Sutton and burn down mosques.

As well as the incendiary devices, Snow sent threatening letters to solicitors - one including an illustration of how to make a bomb using a light bulb.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Snow wrote a letter to a probation officer referring to Asian people as "dirty disgusting vermin".

Prison officers intercepted a letter sent to Rahman Ravelli solicitors in Halifax from Snow in November 2012 and found a device inside made from crushed match heads and a striking device attacked to the opening flap.