Years of extra time added to prisoners’ sentences in Cambridgeshire

HMP Littlehey

HMP Littlehey - Credit: Archant

More than 5,500 days of additional imprisonment were imposed on inmates for breaking the rules in prisons across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough last year.

Research done by the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed that prisoners at Littlehey, Peterborough and Whitemoor had collectively been handed an extra 15 years between 2016 and 2017 for bad behaviour.

Figures showed that the number of offences in HMP Littlehey tallied up to 774 extra days, whilst HMP Peterborough men’s prison equated to 3,015 extra days, and HMP Peterborough woman’s prison saw an additional 447 days.

HMP Whitemoor also saw 1,297 additional days for prisoners to serve.

The charity’s report, ‘The Rising Tide: Additional Days for Rule-Breaking in Prison’ suggests that the disciplinary system in prisons has become ‘unsustainable’ with the number of additional days handed down in East Anglian jails raising by 26 per cent in one year – 24,083 in 2016 to 30,352 in 2017. More than 30,000 days was imposed in the whole of East Anglia for offences, which is a total of more than 83 years, and the report suggests that it is in relation to overcrowding and staff shortages.

The Howard League believes the rise in crime in prisons could be solved by restorative approaches or by training and empowering staff to respond to conflict in ways other than giving prisoners extra time.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “The explosion in the use of additional days of imprisonment has been a catastrophe for the prison system. Rather than solving problems, it has created new ones – piling more pressure on the prison population and worsening overcrowding, which in turn leads to more drug abuse and violence.

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“These figures illustrate the urgent need for reform. We need to see a culture change in jails, from top to bottom. A prison that resorts again and again to further punishment is an unhealthy prison.

“Scrapping the imposition of additional days would make prisons safer, fairer and less likely to churn out people who go on to reoffend in the community. It has worked in Scotland and, with the right approach, it would work here, too.”

Across England and Wales, the total number of additional days handed down has more than doubled in three years – from fewer than 160,000 in 2014 to almost 360,000 in 2017. It means that almost 1,000 years of extra imprisonment were imposed last year.