JUSTICE Secretary Liz Truss was urged to get a grip on the prisons crisis today after violence erupted at a Birmingham prison last week - which “put the public at avoidable risk”.
Labour politicians blasted her for presiding over the dangerous state of jails and that said that a whopping 8,000 extra staff are needed to meet the recruitment targets.
Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, called for her to reveal what she knew about the risks in prisons in the build up to the unrest, and slammed her for cutting staff.
He said: “Where rehabilitation fails… reoffending rises. This is a failure to protect society.
“This puts the public at avoidable risk… the crisis in our prisons is a symptom of a failing government that has lost control.”
Ms Truss insisted that staffing levels would be increased, and an extra £100m would be spent on it.
Ministers were warned two months ago that urgent action was needed to prevent attacks on staff in jails, but last week 600 inmates took over the prison and caused chaos.
She said that 380 prisoners had been moved out of the Birmingham prison, and that officials were monitoring incidents at HMP Hull.
“Reforming our prisons will take time,” she added. “Perpetrators will feel the full force of the law.”
She insisted that G4S would foot the bill for the unrest in Birmingham.
Earlier today a prisons watchdog said that warnings were raised repeatedly about low staffing levels on the estate.
John Thornhill, president of the National Council of Independent Monitoring Boards, said the disturbing violence at the prisons was a result of staffing levels and regimes, meaning prisoners had been denied access to a range of facilities.
“They become frustrated, tension and violence increase and become more widespread,” Mr Thornhill said. “The result, as we have seen in recent weeks, is an increase in riots that damage the system and individuals.
New footage emerged earlier of lags rioting at HMP Birmingham amidst fears prisoners at HMP Hull will kick off.
Officers are warning of “simmering tensions” at Hull after 15 inmates were transferred there following a mass outbreak of violence on Friday.
The clip shows prisoners running wild; throwing tables, stealing computers and using fire extinguishers as the facility descended into chaos after an underworld gang allegedly tried to stab another inmate in row over stolen drugs.
The jail was “on the brink of riot” last night as union officials revealed guards are worried about their safety after the latest arrivals already set fire to security cameras and assaulted a prison officer.
The Birmingham riot was the worst in recent history, with 600 inmates taking over and seizing control.
Specially trained police squads were brought in to restore order after 13 hours of anarchy, with triumphant lags even taunting jailers using smuggled phones to post about the coup on social media.
It started on the N wing after prisoners got hold of keys from a prison officer.
Violence quickly spread, with three other wings falling and inmates in the G wing, who have been accused of or convicted of sex offences, terrified for their lives.
240 inmates were transferred to prisons around the country as former prison officers warn of more riots as the prison crisis reaches boiling point.
He added: “They were put in one unit, which beggars’ belief.
“They set fire to the cameras just after they got here and a senior officer was assaulted by, we believe, one of the main instigators of what happened at Birmingham.”
Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, said last week: “This is only the latest in a number of disturbances across the prison estate. The Justice Secretary is failing to get this crisis under control.”
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