British prisons need a “military grade intervention”

What’s it going to take? Does a British prison officer have to die trying to do their job to make the government listen? Will a death suffice?

In the absence of government action, another six officers have taken the hit. Following an outbreak of violence at HMP Long Lartin Prison, which began Sunday morning, six officers have been seriously injured. Three have sustained head injuries, two have fractured jaws and one has a broken arm.

Long Lartin is a dangerous place. In the prison community it’s known as “Paranoia City”. A supermax segregation unit (the biggest in Europe) at Long Lartin is designed to hold the most violent and dangerous types of offenders.

I spoke to a former inmate. He spent close to ten years inside the place which he described to me as intense:

“The gangs are really the ones in control. Many of the gang leaders refuse to even acknowledge the prison staff; they communicate via a weaker prisoner who works as a go-between.”

In January, 2018 inspectors reported that HMP Long Lartin was stable and well-controlled; in June, 2018 the prison’s female Governor, Clare Pearson, was attacked and hit in the face by an inmate. It was an unprovoked attack. And still the government seems determined to ignore the obvious truths of life inside this institution.

Well controlled? Two murders since 2014, a riot in October 2017, the Governor attacked in 2018, and now three officers with broken faces and arms.

If this is stable and well controlled I would hate to see the government’s idea of violent and disorderly.

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