select for full details Prison officer 'fears for staff' at riot-hit Erlestoke
A former prison officer at a riot-hit jail says he fears for the young, inexperienced staff still working there.
By BBC NEWS 9 Aug, 2017
Keith Conway said he took early retirement from Wiltshire's HMP Erlestoke in 2016 because he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

The government "needs to start getting discipline back into prisons", he said.

The Prison Service says it is taking "decisive action" to tackle the jail's "long-standing challenges".

A lack of experienced staff, which "remained a concern", contributed to violence at the Category C prison near Devizes in 2016, a report following the disturbance found.

It also said drug use was a "blight" leading to "frequent life-threatening emergencies".

Just days later after it was published, fresh violence broke out with five prison officers seriously injured.

Mr Conway, who had 28 years' experience as a prison officer, said there was "no respect" within the prison, with inmates knowing there were too few staff to cope.

"I was frightened, you didn't know what you were walking into. Staff were getting injured and their mental health was going," he said.

"I fear for those people who are still there and I take my hat off to them for what they are doing."

He added it was too much to expect new officers aged 20 or 21 years old to "tell a man of 40 doing a life sentence what to do".

Conservative MP Robert Neill, the chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, said the Prison Service had been "cut too far".

While crediting the government for recruiting more staff, he admitted "we are shedding experienced officers at the same time".

Mark Fairhurst from the Prison Officers Association added: "We're not prepared to put up with this violence any more. Things have got to change." A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said staff recruitment and drug testing had increased to improve conditions.

select for full details New support centre for families opened at Glenochil Prison
The Scottish Government has offered £1.8m to mitigate the effects on children of having a parent in prison.
By Holyrood Magazine 9 Aug, 2017, Jenni Davidson reporting
A new visitor centre has been opened at Glenochil Prison to support the families of prisoners.

The visitor centre provides a space outside prison security for relatives of prisoners to access support and information ranging from a cup of tea to advice on issues such as housing, finance, health, domestic abuse and supporting children whose parents are behind bars.

The prison visitor centre at HMP Glenochil is run by a charity, Stirling Interfaith Community Justice Group (SICJG), which received £50,000 of grant funding from the Scottish Government to deliver the service.

To help combat the impact of having a parent in prison, the Scottish Government is providing £1.8m of funding to increase the provision of prison visitor centres.

The £1.8m funding will support the opening of three other new prison visitor centres this year, at Shotts, Low Moss and Inverness.

In addition, the funding will help to support existing facilities at Saughton, Addiewell, Perth, Grampian, Barlinnie, Polmont and Cornton Vale.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government wanted to make sure that the families and children affected by prison had access to the support they needed to deal with “what is often a very challenging situation”.

He said: “We know the children of prisoners face a number of additional challenges from a young age, with parental imprisonment having a negative impact on their long-term life chances and health.

“Prison visitor centres are vital to helping us break this cycle and are an example of the work the Scottish Government is doing to help give every child in Scotland the best possible start in life.”

Andrew McLellan, Chair of the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group, said he was delighted that “such great progress” was being made towards establishing a prison visitor centre at every prison in Scotland.

He said: “We know that supporting prisoners to maintain positive family ties reduces reoffending and makes Scotland safer.

“Yet prisoners’ families and prisoners’ children in particular often pay a very high price for their family member’s imprisonment.

“Too often financial difficulties, emotional trauma and a lack of support are all part and parcel of having someone in prison.

“The warm welcome and practical support these services offer make a huge difference to family members during what can be a very difficult time.”

All the prison visitor centres in Scotland are run by third sector organisations in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service.

They are supported and overseen by the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group (NPVCSG), a collaboration between public and third sector organisations including the Scottish Government, the Scottish Prison Service and the charities which provide the visitor centres.

select for full details Report on Northants children's prison finds rise in violent incidents
Levels of violent incidents and use of force by staff have increased at a privately run child jail, according to a report by inspectors.
By Yahoo News 9 Aug, 2017, Eric Allison reporting
The jail was sold off by G4S last year after allegations of abuse of children by staff were the subject of investigations by the BBC’s Panorama and the Guardian.

The report on Rainsbrook secure training centre (STC) in Northamptonshire, now run by US firm MTCnovo, revealed almost 500 violent incidents in a six-month period. This breaks down into an average of 40 assaults against young people, 36 assaults against staff and seven fights each month at the centre, which holds just 58 children.

Inspectors said there had been a particular spike in violence in the month before the inspection, but that there was no plan in place to make the STC more stable. The report, produced jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and HM Inspectorate of Prisons, found staff at Rainsbrook to be inexperienced and poorly trained and that basic systems to safeguard and care for children were not in place.

Inspectors said 48% of the children they surveyed had reported being restrained by staff at Rainsbrook where, in 2004, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died of asphyxiation while being restrained. Thirteen serious injuries or warning signs in respect of breathing difficulties during restraint were reported in the six months before the inspection.

Inspectors saw incidents in which young people were forcibly relocated to sterile rooms without any personal possessions, and in one case a mattress was removed. They said said this was punitive and risked increased vulnerability, adding that there was no evidence that any consideration was given to the impact on young people’s mental state of placing them in bare rooms.

Inspectors were also concerned about a transparent “glass brick” in the shower enclosure in the children’s rooms, saying these seriously compromised young people’s right to privacy and dignity as well as creating the potential for misuse.

The report found that the majority of staff at Rainsbrook had less than a year’s experience, with many having served only a few weeks or months in their roles. Inspectors said that they had found some significant improvements recently within the centre although the effectiveness of leaders and managers was inadequate. A new director had been appointed and staff had confidence in his clearly stated vision for the centre. They also found it encouraging that concerns raised by a whistleblowing member of staff had been acted on.

Last year, following investigations by Panorama and the Guardian into allegations of staff abuse at Medway STC in Kent, G4S announced that it was selling off its children’s services. Medway was taken over by the Ministry of Justice and Rainsbrook sold to MTCnovo.

select for full details Hepatitis B vaccine to be restricted in UK owing to global shortage
Public Health England applies emergency measures to protect those at highest risk after manufacturing problems hit supply.
By Guardian News 7 Aug, 2017, Nicola Slawson reporting
The measures, which mean that only the most vulnerable will receive the vaccine while others will have to wait, are expected to continue until 2018.

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver, which is spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids.

The risk of catching hepatitis B in the UK is very low, but the vaccine is usually offered to individuals who are at specific risk of being exposed to body fluids from an infected person.

This includes babies born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B, the sexual partners of infected individuals and a range of other groups such as men who have sex with men, healthcare workers and intravenous drug users. It is also recommended for anyone undertaking activities such as getting a tattoo overseas.

The recently announced addition of hepatitis B protection to the routine childhood immunisation programme at two, three and four months will go ahead as the combined vaccine is not affected by the shortage.

A PHE spokeswoman said: “The manufacturers are getting more stock in but there has been an issue for a while so that’s why we have put this prioritisation guidance into place. We know that the Hepatitis B vaccine takes a long time and is quite difficult to manufacture.

“We will make sure those who really need the vaccine will get it, and those who are less at risk should get it at a later date. It’s important to note that we are a very low risk country for hepatitis B, and the most at risk group are babies.

“The most common route of transmission is when a baby is born to a mother who has it but the paediatric vaccine is not affected by the shortage.”

Individuals can reduce their risk of contracting hepatitis B by avoiding unprotected sex and injecting drugs, by not sharing needles when injecting, by avoiding having tattoos, piercings or acupuncture when overseas and by avoiding medical or dental care in high-prevalence countries.

The spokeswoman said: “We think there will be shortages until early 2018 so we are urging people to make sure they are taking the right precautions while the shortage is ongoing.”

select for full details Man jailed for life for setting fire to busy Clapham gay bar a second time
A man has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar for the second time.
By Evening Standard 7 Aug, 2017, Tom Powell reporting
Jason Fossett, of Norwood, piled rubbish against the fire exit of the Two Brewers in Clapham before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court – saying he could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

Fossett was seen by the pub’s manager loitering outside in the alleyway moments before the fire was started.

The fire was spotted in its early stages, which prevented further damage to the pub and potential injuries.

The arsonist was then traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, as well as a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack.

Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

PC Paul Waterman said: "Fossett is clearly a dangerous character who deliberately went out of his way to set fire to the bar in a carefully calculated attack. "It was sheer luck that the fire was spotted in its early stages to prevent any further damage or anyone sustaining any injuries.

"By working with my colleagues in Lambeth CID and with the cooperation and assistance of staff from the Two Brewers, we ensured that Fossett was brought to justice and has been put behind bars.

"I hope Fossett uses his time behind bars to reflect o

select for full details Mother-of-two jailed for leading police on 120mph car chase
a speeding motorist has been jailed after leading police on a car chase where she exceeded 120mph, with the judge branding it as the worst case of dangerous driving he had ever seen.
By Daily Telegraph 4 Aug, 2017
Megan Nolan, 24, hit the high speeds on the motorway in order to evade capture, and only stopped when her VW Scirocco car engine blew.

The mother-of-two from Wythenshawe, Manchester, was jailed for a year after a judge at Manchester Crown Court told her it was the worst he had seen in his 15 year career.

Judge Martin Rudland told the uninsured driver that her driving was "selfish and ludicrous", and to not send her to custody would be "wildly wrong".

Nolan, who planned to take a job as a teaching assistant in September, had been out drinking with friends in Bury on June 4 this year before making her way home at around 1am, where her speeding caught the attention of a Greater Manchester Police patrol on the M60 who gave chase to the vehicle.

The vehicle lost her after she ploughed through two red lights into oncoming traffic, but a second police patrol caught up to her again rejoining the motorway, and made attempts to get her to stop.

She had pleaded guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving and driving without insurance.

In CCTV played to the court, Nolan's black 16 plate Volkswagen can be seen weaving between the light traffic on the motorway, before coming off at Wythenshawe and leading the police round residential areas at speeds exceeding 70mph.

She ran multiple red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road before her engine began smoking and she had no option but to abandon her vehicle after over 20 minutes of police pursuit.

When watching the footage back, Nolan had her head in her hands and began to cry, looking at her mother who was in the public gallery.

Prosecuting, Andrew Mackintosh, told the court: "The dangerous driving was caught on CCTV and there is two sections of footage from two separate police cars.

"The first spotted a car driving on the M60 at 1.15am on the morning of Sunday the 4 June this year.

select for full details Police investigating claim that prison officer had affair with inmate at Styal prison
A 49-year-old man has been arrested following claims of an illicit relationship at the women's jail.
By Neal Keeling 3 Aug, 2017
Police are investigating after a prison officer allegedly had an affair with an inmate at Styal women’s prison.

A male officer is alleged to have had an illicit relationship with a woman prisoner - breaching strict jail guidelines.

Now detectives are investigating claims which have emerged from the women’s prison just outside of Manchester. A man, aged 49, has been arrested in connection with the inquiry.

In a statement Cheshire Police said: “Cheshire police are investigating an allegation of misconduct in a public position at HMP Styal in Wilmslow.

“A 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the allegation and has been released on police bail. Enquiries are ongoing.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “A police investigation is underway so it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Styal is the only female prison in the North West and currently holds around 490 adult inmates.

Planning permission has been obtained to develop the site with the ultimate potential of providing accommodation for up to 800 prisoners, although the work is currently on hold.

The site opened as a women’s prison in 1962 when female prisoners from Strangeways were transferred in.

From 1983 Young Offenders were admitted and in 1999 a wing was added to accommodate unsentenced female prisoners following the closure of Risley’s remand centre, increasing the prison size by 60 per cent.

Styal receives adult women and young offenders, directly from the courts. It has a mother and baby unit which houses mothers with babies, up to the age of 18 months.

Earlier this year a prison officer who had an ‘intense’ illicit love affair with a notorious lifer at Strangeways was jailed.

select for full details Holme House prison put in 'complete lockdown' as staff fall ill from inhaling fumes from Spice drug
Prison officers were drafted in to carry out a search of HMP Holme House after drug fumes and sickness led to a staffing shortage
By Laura Hill 3 Aug, 2017
Holme House Prison was put on “lockdown” this week after prison officers fell ill from inhaling fumes from the lethal high drug Spice .

The Stockton jail was shut down as a full search of the jail was carried out, the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) said.

Staff had to be called in from other prisons to help the search after so many prison officers were left too ill to work.

This, combined with regular sickness, left the jail short staffed, the POA claimed.

Prison staff have complained they are struggling and are anxiously watching news of prison riots in the south of England, fearing trouble could be sparked in the North East .

And the amount of Spice is said to be causing chaos at the Stockton jail, which holds 1,210 male prisoners from across the region.

Prison officers have been falling ill after inhaling smoke from the former legal in recent weeks, prompting the POA and Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham to call for an inquiry.

Terry Fullerton, North East POA chairman, claimed there was a “complete lockdown” at the prison on Tuesday.

He said: “Additional resources had to be called in and a complete search of the prison was carried out.

“There has been so many instances of staff being overcome with fumes from Spice.

“The Spice problem has been getting worse since the beginning of June.

“It’s so cheap to produce it has now become the drug of choice for prisoners. There’s that much of it knocking about on the outside that it’s easy to get a hold of.”

Mr Fullerton claimed on one day last week there were 12 members of staff off sick after inhaling Spice fumes.

select for full details Inside a prison riot: Fridges, beds and pool balls turned into missiles as inmates take over jail wings
Prison officers are having to deal with more riots taking place across the country as inmates are getting smarter - hiding themselves from cameras - and more confident they can gain control over a diminished work force
By Claire Carter 4 Aug, 2017
As the shout of "flak" rings out, snooker balls, doors and parts of dismantled bed frames scream through the air towards them.

Underfoot the floor has been covered with fairy liquid and cooking oil, making it impossible to stay upright as makeshift barricades of pool tables and doors block their path.

And as they clamber towards a hooded prison officer being beaten by inmates, prisoners start to rain down a volley of blows on their heads and bodies, unleashing vicious kicks.

This is the job of a tornado response prison officer - trained to bring rioting prisoners under control as they completely take over wings and aim to smash up everything in their path.

Some responses can take up to eight hours, as prison officers desperately try to regain control from dozens of prisoners intent on destroying everything in sight.

Dave Todd is a tornado trained prison officer. He has attended numerous riots up and down the country. He has been punched, kicked, had pool balls and doors thrown at him and had to wrestle with prisoners to get them under control.

"Prisoners in that situation will often not want to stand toe to toe with you," said Dave. They will have weapons they can use at length, they will have bed frames they will try to stab you with and they will throw long metal bars at you.

"They will often throw lots and lots of pool balls. When things are flying at us we shout 'flak' to warn each other.

"It is scary."

This week tornado officers were called to several prisons because of rioting inmates as the Prison Governors Association has warned of a "complete decline" in UK jails.

Riots broke out on two days running at the Mount in Hertfordshire as inmates smashed windows and were seen with weapons. The category C mens prison has reportedly struggled with staff shortages. Disturbances also erupted at Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire where one prison officer reportedly suffered a broken jaw .

In his 26 years as a prison officer, Dave has noticed the number of riots increase and fewer be resolved by negotiation - a factor he predicts will only get worse as the prison service continues to be squeezed and prisons understaffed.

"I think more riots are likely. The prisoners know if they want to take a wing they can. There could be six prison officers with a wing of 160 prisoners. If you are not offering a full regime the prisoners get fed up with spending too much time in their cells, not getting education or work. Then they riot.

select for full details Data Protection muddle delays prison roof damage case
The case of an inmate who allegedly climbed onto the roof of Channings Wood Jail has been delayed because the Prison Service refused to tell his lawyers
By Rich_Booth 4 Aug, 2017
Stefan Brown was moved from the jail near Newton Abbot to Portland after allegedly damaging the roof but when his solicitor tried to arrange a visit she was told he had been moved.

The Prison Service told the solicitor they could not tell her where he was because of 'data protection' and she had to ring round all the jails in the area until she found him.

Brown, aged 27, of Stott Close, Plymouth, is accused of causing criminal damage.

His case at Exeter Crown Court was adjourned because he refused to travel from Erlestoke Prison, Wiltshire.

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, defending, said the case could not have been dealt with because his solicitor had been unable to arrange a meeting.

He said:"He was moved to Portland as a result of this incident and there was due to be a conference there.

The solicitor checked the day before to make sure he was there but was told he had been moved.

"She was told that data protection meant we were not allowed to find out where he was.

The solicitor trawled through various prisons and ultimately somebody realised how ridiculous it was not to tell his legal representatives where their client is."

Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, adjourned the case until next month to allow time for the defence legal team to meet Brown and take instructions.

select for full details Prisons in crisis due to ‘perverse’ government overhaul
President of Prison Governors Association says members have been left devastated at decline of their service
By Nadia Khomami 2 Aug, 2017
The president of the Prison Governors Association (PGA) has said prisons in England and Wales are in crisis due to a “perverse” government overhaul and a “toxic mix” of pressures.

In an open letter published as riot officers were called to a prison for a second day, Andrea Albutt launched a scathing attack on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), saying the PGA had been left “devastated at the complete decline of our service” and that the recent increase in indiscipline among prisoners was of grave concern.

The government has said it has taken immediate action to increase prison officer numbers, while creating a body to drive through its set of changes.

However, Albutt said governors had told her that they had seen nothing tangible come from the MoJ to ease the burden on prisons, leaving governors facing “unacceptable stress and anxiety”.

“We know many prisons are in crisis and I deliberately use that term, because it can’t be dressed up in any other way,” she said.

The governor warned that an unforeseen rise in prisoners had left the estate with “virtually no headroom” in spaces, while seasonal pressures were adding strain to limited staffing levels.

Data released last week by the MoJ showed there were 26,643 assaults in prisons in the year to March, including a record 7,159 attacks on staff, equating to 20 a day.

Specialist teams were called into HMP The Mount in Hertfordshire, which has struggled with severe staff shortages, two days in a row after prisoners reportedly seized control of part of a wing, while there was an incident at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire involving prisoners.

select for full details 'ON THE BRINK OF A MELTDOWN' The Mount jail riot sparks major concerns
inmates battered windows and started fires amid claims ‘zombie’ drug Spice is rife among prisoners
By Laura Burnip 1 Aug, 2017
Prisoners have reportedly been unable to shower, exercise or make phone calls 'for weeks' due to staff shortages

A PRISON which descended into riots yesterday as furious prisoners lit fires and took over two wings had been “on the brink of a meltdown” amid severe staff shortages.

Shocking footage showed cheering prisoners tearing through The Mount prison, Hertfordshire, hammering on caged windows after the chaos broke out at around 2pm.

A report also warned “zombie” drug Spice was a “big concern”, with drones delivering the substance into the prison “still getting in” despite a decline.

Specialist Tornado Team riot officers were sent in but the rampage yesterday took eight hours to bring under control.

The riot erupted on the same day a report warned the Category C prison was struggling with “severe” staff shortages.

Prisons blogger and expert Alex Cavendish said it had been “on the brink of a meltdown” for weeks, with inmates locked in their cells all day and given no hot food.

Mr Cavendish said he had also heard of prisoners not being allowed to shower or make phonecalls.

He said: “The technical term is that the staff have lost control of two wings. What ‘lost control’ means is that the prisoners are basically rioting, in layman’s terms.”

A woman who said her son is an inmate tweeted during the disturbance: "My son is at The Mount he has been on 24 hour lock down for weeks."

Sun Online understands rioting erupted when prisoners who hadn't been allowed out of their cells in seven days were finally given two hours of exercise time.

Prison officers had also cancelled all religious and education sessions amid short-staffing.

When inmates were asked to return to their cells, a number refused before using force to take over two wings.

A source said: "They haven't been allowed to shower or exercise and have been delivered cold dinners for a week. Tensions have been rising.

"Today, when it came to them returning to their cells a few of them got together and decided 'we're not going back in' and that's when it all kicked off."

Footage shows prisoners cheering and laughing as a fire was started on one wing and other inmates tried to batter through caged windows.

One prisoner could be heard shouting: "Anyone got any fireworks?" as a blaze took hold

select for full details Pensioner who conned an elderly woman out of £160,000 is jailed
John Edward Burke, 74, spent the cash on a new kitchen, a Mercedes, and even loaned money to friends
By Alexandra Rucki 1 Aug, 2017
a fraudster who conned an elderly woman into handing over £160,000 has been jailed.

John Edward Burke, of Teal Close, Altrincham , befriended the 83-year-old woman and gained her trust between 2007 to 2012.

the woman, who lives in Warrington, became dependant on Burke to manage her finances and also gave him permission to manage her bank accounts without her being present.

Burke persuaded the victim to hand over cheques, promising a good return on her investment and a repayment of capital after a set period of seven to 10 years.

During that period Burke stole £160,000 from the vicitm.

His actions came to light when a family solicitor and financial advisor noted the lack of paperwork and lack of interest payments being made in respect of the investments.

The fraud squad for GMP launched an investigation and enquiries showed Burke was not a registered accountant and wasn't registered to give financial advice by the Financial Conduct Authority.

It also emerged in 2013 a homemade will was prepared by Burke, which the victim had signed appointing him as sole executor.

Burke spent the majority of the stolen cash on loans to another company, a lease on a new Mercedes, a new kitchen, living costs, upgrading electrical items around his home, and paid off his personal debts.

He even loaned some money to a friend to buy a motorhome.

In January 2015 Burke was arrested after police executed a warrant at his home. Burke, 74, was sentenced to 33 months in prison at a hearing in court on Tuesday, August 1.

select for full details Two jailed after snatching £40k of mobiles from phone shop during machete and sledge hammer raid
Jack Thompson and Kyle Meighan struck at the store in Bury New Road, Sedgley Park, Prestwich
By Neal Keeling 1 Aug, 2017
two raiders who robbed a phone shop armed with a machete and sledge hammer have been jailed.

Jack Thompson and Kyle Meighan struck at the store in Bury New Road, Sedgley Park, Prestwich, forcing terrified staff to empty a stockroom before fleeing with £40,000 worth of mobile phones

At Manchester Minsull Street Crown Court, Thompson, 20, of Bradley Avenue, Salford, was jailed for six years four months.

Meighan, 22, of Chancel Avenue, Salford, was sentenced to five years four months.

Both had pleaded guilty to robbery.

Meighan, who covered his face with a red motorcycle helmet was armed with a sledge hammer, whilst Thompson was wearing a balaclava and was armed with a machete.

After the raid they got in to a red Ford Focus Estate, which they had parked on Vine Street, Prestwich before driving away.

Further enquires led police to Cowling Street, Salford, where they recovered the getaway car along with clothes and weapons used during the robbery.

Officers then attended an address on Kersal Hall Avenue where the stolen phones were recovered.

Robert O’Brien from GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “These men terrified innocent shoppers and staff who were just going about their daily business.

select for full details New trouble at Erlestoke jail as officers say prisons are in disarray
NEW trouble has flared at Erlestoke Prison near Devizes just days after a report highlighted a lack of experienced staff at the jail
By Joanne Moore 1 Aug, 2017
The latest problem at Erlestoke today came after specialist riot-trained officers were deployed to another prison for the second day running after inmates reportedly seized control of a wing.

As the new disturbance erupted at HMP The Mount in Hertfordshire, staff also had to resolve an incident at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire.

The Prison Service confirmed that staff had successfully resolved an incident involving a small number of prisoners at HMP Erlestoke on Tuesday.

The trouble flared less than a week after figures laid bare the scale of the safety crisis that has engulfed jails across England and Wales in the last year.

There were 26,643 assaults in the 12 months to March, including a record 7,159 attacks on staff - equivalent to nearly 20 every day.

Campaigners and watchdogs have issued a catalogue of warnings about violence, drug use and overcrowding across the jail estate.

Last month Peter Clarke, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, said staffing levels in many establishments are too low to maintain order and described the conditions some inmates are held in as "squalid, dirty and disgraceful".

The Prison Officers Association called for an independent review. Mark Fairhurst, Acting National Chairman of the POA, said: "The Prison Service is in disarray; this type of unrest underlines the problems in our prisons and has significant ramifications for the taxpayer and local community."

select for full details Drug dealer read hundreds of books in jail to learn how to carry out £1m tax scam
Mubbashir Alam Aslam swotted up on business from behind bars after being sent down for dealing heroin
By Andrew Bardsley 1 Aug, 2017
A drug dealer who read hundreds of books in jail to learn how to carry out an elaborate £1m tax scam has been ordered to pay back nearly £400,000 of his ill-gotten gains.

Mubbashir Alam Aslam swotted up on business from behind bars after being sent down for dealing heroin.

Days after he was released, the 42-year-old set up fake clothing companies and began cheating HM Revenue and Customs out of VAT refunds with fake receipts.

Aslam, who set up six bogus businesses, spent the cash extravagantly on drugs and gambling at casinos.

He was caged for five years in 2014 following a probe into the scam.

Aslam, recently released from prison, has now been told he must pay back £398,214 he has stashed in various bank accounts.

A Manchester Crown Court Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was told he benefited from his criminality to the tune of £1,053,586.

Aslam, of Maldon Street, Rochdale , has three months to pay back the sum, or he'll be sent back to prison for four years, Judge Jinder Singh Boora ruled.

The court heard he read ‘hundreds of books on business’ while serving time for drug dealing.

On his release, in 2007, he started setting up fake companies.

He recruited two girlfriends to front his bogus enterprises and stole the identities of friends - including his own brother-in-law - appointing them as directors without their knowledge.

select for full details Scottish Liberal Democrats offer Scottish Government support to end short prison sentences
The Lib Dem commitment follows calls by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang for more use of community sentences
By Jenni Davidson 1 Aug, 2017
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have offered the Scottish Government their support to put an end short prison sentences of less than 12 months.

Party leader Willie Rennie promised his party would give the Scottish Government a majority should it bring forward legislation to abolish short-term prison sentences.

Rennie criticised the SNP for “sitting on their hands” following a government consultation on short-term prison sentences nearly two years ago and he called on the Scottish Government to end “the pointless punitive approach” that sees offenders locked up for short periods.

The Lib Dem commitment comes after HM Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang called for an end to short jail sentences because they don’t prevent reoffending.

Strang told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Sunday: “I think we are locking up too many people in prison in Scotland…

“The evidence is very clear that if you’re wanting to reduce crime, then you don’t send people to prison for a short time.”

Strang pointed out that there is a high rate of reoffending following short prison terms of less than 12 months, with over half of those reconvicted within one year of release.

He added: “I would have though one purpose of the criminal justice system is to prevent future crimes, to reduce reoffending, and the evidence is very clear that if you send someone to prison, then the damage that that does leads to them reoffending more than if you had given them an alternative sentence by the court.

“So I think we should be doing much more in the way of community sentences, community disposals, whether a fine, whether a community payback order, where someone is repairing some of the damage that they’re done and making a positive contribution to the community that they’ve come from.”

Following Strang’s comments, Rennie said that the Liberal Democrats had always stood for “progressive and sensible penal reform”.

There would always be some for whom prison is the only option, he said, and there should be “meaningful training and education” for them as well as support when they are released, which would represent “a good start” towards “long overdue penal reform”.

However, Rennie also pointed out that four prisons in Scotland were running at over 100 per cent occupancy in 2016 and a third of people behind bars are on short term sentences.

“The Scottish Government launched a consultation over a year ago to explore options to strengthen the presumption against short term sentences and despite bodies such as HMIPS supporting the end to the practice the SNP are sitting on their hands,” he said.

“It is time to end the pointless punitive approach and be led by what works for offenders and communities, bringing our justice system firmly into the 21st century.”

With the Lib Dem support, there is a clear majority in the Scottish Parliament in favour of abolishing short-term sentences.

In their manifesto for last year’s Scottish Parliament election, the Greens also promised to get rid of prison sentences of less than 12 months, while Labour had called for a limit on sentences below six months.

select for full details HMP Gartree inmates could use your wifi, prison's neighbours are warned
Leicestershire jail has asked neighbouring residents to tweak security settings
By Jacob Jarvis 1 Aug, 2017
The security chief of a Leicestershire prison has warned residents on the other side of the walls that inmates could use householders' wifi for criminal activities.

A letter sent to residents near HMP Gartree requested assistance in preventing detainees logging on to wireless signals on illegally-held phones.

The document, signed by the prison’s head of security, starts "Dear neighbour" and says that its writer "makes no apology for contacting you to ask for help and assistance".

“As part of a recent operation we identified that wifi signals from nearby properties are breaching the prison boundary meaning that potentially prisoners could log on through the public access element of your network," it continues.

“In theory prisoners could be using your network to commit criminal activities.”

the letter added that this issue is exacerbated due to the prison’s isolated location.

It continued: “Being somewhat isolated we also suffer from contraband being thrown over the fences, to be collected by prisoners.

"Items including mobile phones and drugs in tennis balls and packages have been recovered.

“Several methods have been employed to get phones an illicit items into prison, including smuggling by visitors, throw overs of parcels and even delivery by drones.

“We use a mixture of both covert and overt tactics to identify and recover illegally-held devices as well other contraband items and work closely with the local police who have no hesitation in prosecuting offenders.”