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Three hostage situations reported at Norwich Prison as figures show protests are on the rise

PUBLISHED: 09:30 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:43 25 October 2018

Protests are on the rise at Norwich Prison. Photo : Steve Adams

Protests are on the rise at Norwich Prison. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Prisoners have been reported taking people hostage, climbing into trees and barricading themselves in cells.

The number of protests at Norwich Prison has risen by 39pc, figures show, as experts warn a high number of incidents could be a sign of a “failing prison”.

HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) data shows that Norwich prisoners rebelled against officers 57 times in 2017/18, up from 41 the previous year.

Protesting behaviour can include prisoners creating barricades, hostage incidents, concerted indiscipline and incidents at height when prisoners climb onto safety netting, portacabins or up trees.

In the prison last year, there were 36 recorded incidents at height, six incidents of concerted indiscipline, which is defined as two or more prisoners defying instructions from officers or deliberately refusing to comply with requests.

There were also three hostage situations - which involve prisoners holding one or more people against their will - and reports of prisoners barricading themselves in their cells, blocking doors and preventing staff from accessing areas in the prison a total of 12 times.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust and a former governor of High Down Prison in Surrey, said grievances that cause protests are mostly “day-to-day things”, like not having access to medication or not being let out of cells at the right time.

He said that a lack of staff has a “knock-on effect” on the day-to-day running of the rest of the prison, which can cause prisoners to become frustrated and increases the likelihood of protest incidents.

He added: “The solution is all about nipping things in the bud. Often these things have started with something that could be solved with a single phone call.”

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said that protesting behaviour is a “sign of desperation” and a high number of protesting prisoners could be a symptom of a “failing prison”.

In September, around 80 prison officers at Norwich Prison walked out as part of a protest at concerns over the health and safety of workers.

The action came after attacks 
on staff at the jail rose dramatically over the past couple of years.

HMPPS said they have recruited an extra 3,500 prison officers over the last two years and said an additional £40m was being invested to “tackle the drugs and mobile phones which frequently fuel bad behaviour”.

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