McArthur reveals shocking extent of prison violence

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today revealed the shocking extent of violence in prisons and urged the Scottish Government to review how to minimise attacks on staff and prisoners behind bars.

New figures, released to the Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information, show:

-          There are around 2000 assaults on prisoners by other prisoners each year;

-          There were 80 serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in 2015/16;

-          There were 216 incidents of prison staff being assaulted last year – the highest level since at least 2010/11 - four of which were serious.

Responding to the new figures, Mr McArthur commented: 

“These figures reveal the shocking extent of violence in our prisons. 

“There have been thousands of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, with 526 resulting in serious injuries since 2010/11. Meanwhile, the number of recorded attacks on prison staff is at its highest in years. 

“This level of violence in our prisons is unacceptable, particularly the number of attacks on hardworking staff. SNP ministers and prison bosses must review the safeguards that are currently in place to identify where improvements can be made.  

“One area where the Scottish Government could make early headway is through introducing a new presumption on short-term sentences of 12-months or less. This would help reduce overall prisoner numbers, ease pressure on prison staff and allow more time to be spent rehabilitating those who really do pose a threat. It would also be in line with the expert advice Ministers have received and evidence that shows those on short term prison sentences can be better rehabilitated through robust community sentences. 

“The current system makes no sense for the prison staff who are put under greater pressure, offenders looking to get back on track or the communities that they return to.”

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