Lord Woolf: Conditions in prisons are as bad now as they were 25 years ago


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The Independent Online

Conditions in prisons are as bad now as they were at the time of one of Britain’s worst jail riots, a former lord chief justice has warned.

The system is in crisis again 25 years on from the Strangeways disturbance in Manchester, according to Lord Woolf, who led the inquiry into the 1990 violence that led to two deaths, hundreds of injuries and the virtual destruction of the prison.

Calling for a new investigation into the state of the country’s prisons, Lord Woolf, previously England’s most senior judge, told BBC Inside Out North West: “There are things that are better now than then but I fear we’ve allowed ourselves to go backwards and we’re back where we were at the time of Strangeways... Unfortunately prisoners are again being kept in conditions that we should not tolerate.”

Arguing more needs to be done to stop prisoners from turning to crime again once they are released, adding: “People’s re-offending behaviour has not been tackled.”

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: “All prisons have safe population levels and published statistics show crowding is at its lowest levels since 2007/08. Staffing levels were agreed with both prison governors and unions at the outset, and prison officers have done an excellent job during a period when the prison population has unpredictably risen.”