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European judges to rule on UK prisoners voting case

European judges to rule on prisoners voting case Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

European judges will rule on whether the rights of 1,015 serving prisoners in the UK were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is due to announce its judgment on prisoner voting rights today.

Burglar becomes third prisoner to abscond from Gloucestershire prison in a week

Police are hunting a convicted burglar who has absconded from HMP Leyhill - the third inmate to go on the run from the prison inside a week.

Michael Dare Credit: Avon and Somerset Police handout

Avon and Somerset Police said Michael Dare - described as a risk to the public - was last seen at the prison in South Gloucestershire at around 5pm on Friday.

The 29-year-old, who is serving a 20-month sentence for a burglary committed in 2010, has links to Suffolk but is believed to be in Birmingham.

He is described as white, 5ft 11ins, of heavy build, with an angular face and receding brown hair.

A Prison Service spokesman said it had "tightened the eligibility for open prisons following a comprehensive review".

Prison officer taken to hospital after stabbing

A prison officer has been taken to hospital with facial injuries after he was stabbed by an inmate, the Prison Service has confirmed.

The Prison Service also said a small fire had broken out amid the 'incident at height' at Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

There is an ongoing incident at height at HMP Swaleside. Two prisoners gained access to internal netting in an isolated incident. Specialist staff are at the scene waiting to bring the situation to a safe conclusion.

– Prison service spokesperson

Two prisoners were involved, officials said, and one remains on netting on a prison ward after it was scaled by the inmates.

UK prison rape rates 'similar to the US'

The problem of sexual violence behind bars is much more widely recognised in the US than the UK, campaigners have said, after an independent commission discovered the rate of sex crimes in prisons in England and Wales is broadly similar to the US. Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

The focus and energy of both American Republicans and Democrats on tackling the issue of prison rape shames Westminster. The broadly comparable proportions of prisoners reporting sexual victimisation in the US and in England and Wales suggest that this issue is much more serious than previously thought.

– Frances Crook


Independent commission calls to tackle prison rape

Hundreds of prisoners may have been sexually abused behind bars, campaigners have said, prompting calls for more to be done to tackle prison rape.

A HM Prison service flag flies outside HMP Birmingham Credit: PA

An independent commission on sex in prison, set up by charity the Howard League for Penal Reform, discovered the rate of sex crimes in prisons in England and Wales is broadly similar to the United States.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) data shows that 1% of prisoners report being sexually abused in prison, the Howard League said, meaning between 850 to 1,650 prisoners could be victims of sexual assault while inside.

'Crisis' prison 'under-staffed, overcrowded warehouse'

The director of the Prison Reform Trust has called a south east London Young Offenders institution "grossly under-staffed, cash-strapped, overcrowded warehouse", after inspectors warned that there were signs of increasing violence at Isis due to its high population of gang members. Juliet Lyon said:

Time and again the Justice Secretary claims he is transforming rehabilitation, yet here is another example of a violent institution where far too many young prisoners spend the working day locked down with little or nothing to do save for half an hour of exercise.

– Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust

Isis Young Offenders institution 'an improving prison'

The Governor and his staff have done some excellent work with the police to challenge gang affiliation in prisons, the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service said, after inspectors warned over high levels of violence. Michael Spurr added:

Isis manages a difficult population of young adult men - many of whom are serving sentences for violence and have links with London gangs.

As the Chief Inspector makes clear, Isis is an improving prison. In particular, it is doing really good work to support resettlement. Three quarters of prisoners go into employment or training on release - this is crucial for successful rehabilitation.

– Michael Spurr, National Offender Management Service

Justice Secretary denies UK prisons in 'crisis'

The Justice Secretary has denied UK prisons are in crisis, despite a rise in assaults by prisoners in England and Wales.

Chris Grayling's comments come as the latest surprise inspection of a facility in London found high levels of violence at the Isis prison with a high population of gang members.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling Credit: PA

Figures released last month by the Ministry of Justice showed a 6% rise in assaults in prisons in the year ending March 2014, up to 15,033 from 14,083 in the previous 12-month period.

Mr Grayling told the BBC: "We're meeting those challenges, we're recruiting more staff. I am absolutely clear there is not a crisis in our prisons".He added that prison violence "is at a lower level today than it was five years ago".

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