Welsh Affairs Committee launch follow up inquiry to examine prisons in Wales
The Welsh Affairs Committee has today launched a new follow-up inquiry to its 2019 work on Prisons in Wales.
From living conditions to over-crowding, there have been growing concerns that the prison estate across the UK is not fit for purpose.
Safety concerns in prisons across Wales and England have been raised, and while the number of self-inflicted deaths recorded in English prisons fell by 12% in 2019, it rose in Wales.
Further to this, between 2018 and 2020, the number of drug finds increased by 65% in England and Wales.
In the UK Government’s Prisons Strategy White Paper, ministers set out that it will “deliver the biggest prison building programme in more than 100 years”.
The UK Government has also committed to fitting scanning devices in prisons to reduce the numbers of weapons and drugs entering the estate.
With only very limited Wales-specific data on prisons published by the Ministry of Justice, the Committee’s inquiry seeks to shine a light on the true picture of the challenges facing prisons in Wales, and what can be done to tackle those challenges.
It will look specifically at:
- The state of the prison estate (such as crowding, importing of drugs, and violence).
- Staffing issues.
- The management of offenders.
- The ways in which the UK and Welsh Governments coordinate and cooperate in areas such as prisoner health, education, housing and substance misuse.
Welsh Affairs Committee Chairman, Stephen Crabb, said: “The prison population across England and Wales is over 83,000, and this figure is expected to increase. Steps must be taken to address overcrowding and safety concerns within the existing prison population before existing challenges are exacerbated.
“It is difficult to establish the true picture of issues facing prisons in Wales due to there being a lack of Wales-specific data. Our Committee will seek to offer this clarity and identify what steps can be taken to improve the situation facing offenders and prison staff alike.”
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