PRISONS in Lancashire have seen a dramatic rise in “concerted indiscipline” over the past three years, according to Government figures.
And Wymott Jail, near Leyland, badly damaged in two major riots in 1986 and 1993, has the worst record of all.
We cannot go on cramming more people into jails without any thought for the safety of staff, prisoners and the publicFrances Cook
The prison, where TV personality Stuart Hall and footballer Ched Evans served their sentences for sex crimes, tops the list with 10 incidents in the last year alone.
The statistics have been published by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which claims to have seen documents from the Ministry of Justice showing trouble in prisons has now reached epidemic levels nationally.
Jails in the North West have recorded a total of 125 incidents since 2012 where two or more inmates have acted together to defy lawful instructions. Four of those have come at HMP Preston, four at Garth and 12 at neighbouring Wymott. The figures for Kirkham Open Prison have not been revealed.
“We cannot go on cramming more people into jails without any thought for the safety of staff, prisoners and the public,” said Frances Cook, the chief executive for the Howard League. “Simply trying to build a way out of the problem will not work and would mean years of disorder, violence and people dying while we wait for new prisons to be built.”
Prisons nationwide dealt 282 incidents during 2015 - more than five a week - as they struggled to cope with growing numbers of prisoners, chronic overcrowding and deep staff cuts.
A new enhanced method of reporting indiscipline incidents was introduced last summer and may offer some explanation of the rise, although numbers had already more than doubled before the new system came in.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are investing £1.3bn over the next five years to transform the prison estate.”