Assaults in HMP Preston have increased by 82 per cent in the last five years, leading to government plans to double the maximum sentence for assaults on prison officers.
The rise in attacks on staff and prisoners, revealed in figures from the Ministry of Justice, show that of the 264 assaults recorded in 2017 at HMP Preston, 44 were on prison staff; itself a 16 per cent rise on staff assaults from 2012.
Of the assaults, 34 were also defined as ‘serious’, a category including sexual assaults and those where victims required hospital inpatient treatment.
In 2012, 145 assaults were recorded, showing a five-year increase of 82 per cent.
No one from HMP Preston was willing to comment.
However, a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said: “Assaults against our hardworking staff will never be tolerated – and that’s why we are doubling the maximum sentence for assaults on prison officers and always push for the strongest possible sentences.
“We have recruited thousands of prison officers to improve safety and, over the past two years, HMP Preston has invested in body worn cameras, extra CCTV and PAVA incapacitant spray.”
The sentence is set to increase from six months to a year.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This shameful rise in violence and self-injury is the direct result of policy decisions to allow the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked while starving prisons of resources.
“Positive steps to reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff, and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime and despair.”
The numbers also reveal that 279 cases of self-harm were recorded in Preston last year, a decrease of 13 per cent on 2012 figures.
Two years ago 200 officers from Wymott and Garth prisons in Leyland went on strike over their own safety fears.