Bishop Richard Moth – the Catholic Bishop for Prisons, has called on the government to take urgent action following the House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s report on prison planning and policies.
Responding to the committee’s findings Bishop Moth stated:
“This report highlights the severe consequences of overcrowding and under-resourcing, that are being faced by prisoners and staff.
“Because of the expanding prison population and significant cuts to staffing levels, people are spending increasing lengths of time locked in their cells, sometimes amid completely inappropriate conditions. The committee’s inquiry has reiterated a link between this situation and the rising levels of violence, self-harm and suicide in prisons.
“It also draws attention to the growing number of cases in which no one is available to escort prisoners from their cells to educational activities. We know that some prisoners are unable to attend worship or access chaplaincy services for the same reason. This not only undermines people’s basic dignity but can also stand in the way of effective rehabilitation.
“I hope that the government will take these findings seriously and act urgently to reverse the worsening situation in our criminal justice system.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) submitted evidence to the committee’s inquiry highlighting issues identified by Catholic chaplains and charities working in prisons throughout England and Wales.
Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive of CSAN added:
“As we highlighted in our response to the Committee’s inquiry, efficiency savings across the prison estate may save money in the short-term, but it is clear that they are having a counter-productive effect on welfare, safety and spiritual support within the prison system.”