Cuts Watch #176: Prison Murder
The Prison Officers’ Association says that cuts may have contributed to the murder of a prisoner at Grendon Prison. Robert Coello, serving life for raping a child, died on Sunday from head injuries that may have been inflicted by being stamped on. The POA has claimed that security and vetting procedures at the prison have been compromised by the cuts and has called for an investigation.
Last year, a report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons found that Grendon (a specialist prison with a therapeutic regime for prisoners with anti-social disorders) was “uniquely successful” but that its work was threatened by last year’s cuts, which were causing “cancellations of groups, reduced supervision and backlogs of therapy reports.” The report noted that “it was difficult to see how further proposed cuts could be implemented without adverse effect on therapy.”
Grendon normally has a rule that prisoners should only be sent their if their sentence allows for them to spend at least two years in its special regime, but short-term prisoners have been sent there in recent months. On 29 June this prompted Lord Avebury to ask a written question:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what response they have made to the comments in reports of the Independent Monitoring Board on HM Prisons Grendon and Spring Hill about the effect of cuts on both prisons and the effect on HMP Spring Hill of having short-term prisoners who may not engage with resettlement services.”
This was replied to on 7 July:
“The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Following the general election and the subsequent need to look closely at spending decisions, responses to a number of IMB reports have been delayed. The boards will receive a response as soon as possible. I am grateful to the boards for the work they do.”
The response to this report may now be speeded up.