Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Mentally ill patients are in 'solitary confinement' as attacks rocket to 20,000 - fuelled by the spread of psychoactive drugs.

Many prisons are 'unacceptably dangerous'
Many prisons are "unacceptably violent and dangerous places," with "huge" rises in assaults and suicide, a watchdog has warned.
Assaults rocketed to 20,000 in 2015 - up by nearly a third, while suicides also rose by 27%.    
Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, described "overcrowding, poor physical environments in ageing prisons, and inadequate staffing".
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Mentally ill patients are often kept in conditions akin to "solitary confinement" and others self-segregate to avoid drug-related violence.
Much of the violence is associated with the proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS) - previously known as legal highs.
These are having a "dramatic and destabilising effect", Mr Clarke's report said.
There were more than 20,000 assaults in prisons during 2015, up 27% on the previous year.
The number of serious assaults jumped 31% to almost 3,000.
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Cases of self-harm are also up by 25% to over 32,000, and the number of prisoners who killed themselves is up 27%.
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman identified 39 deaths in prisons between June 2013 and June 2015 linked to use of NPS.
"For year-on-year increases, these are huge figures," Mr Clarke said.
Mr Clarke made his comments in his first annual report since he took up the role in February.
"Despite the sterling efforts of many who work in the Prison Service at all levels, there is a simple and unpalatable truth about far too many of our prisons," he said.
"They have become unacceptably violent and dangerous places."
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Mr Clarke disclosed that during visits to prisons he had met inmates who have "self-segregated" in order to escape violence caused by the drugs.
The report also finds four in five young offenders' institutions are insufficiently safe.
Inmates with mental health issues are often held in conditions that "by internationally recognised standards would be classified as solitary confinement."
Justice Secretary Liz Truss said: "I want to see radical reform and I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge we face or how long reform takes."