Wigan prisoners confined to cells for 100 days as punishment

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Inmates were confined to their cells for more than 100 days over just three months for breaking rules at Hindley Prison, according to Ministry of Justice data.

The Howard League for Penal Reform say punishing inmates with confinement contributes to worsening conditions in prison.

Hindley inmates committed 617 proven offences between July and September, of which 20 resulted in the culprit being confined to a cell.

The offending prisoners received 105 days of confinement - the equivalent of more than three months between them.

HM Prison and Probation Service guidance states that adult prisoners can be confined to their cells for up to 21 days for a single offence, with young offenders getting up to 10 days.

Prisoners at Hindley were most likely to be confined in their cells for non-violent offences, with 19 incidents over the three-month period.

Of these, seven were for disobeying a direct order or breaking prison rules, for which the offenders spent a total of 33 days locked in their cells.

Prisoners endangered the health and safety of people around them four times, racking up 29 days in all.

Long periods of cell confinement can cause the mental and physical health of prisoners to deteriorate, according to HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

In a 2017 report, the Inspectorate said it was also concerned that many inmates were spending up to 22 hours in “unpleasant” cells, worsening the impact of extended confinement.

Offenders can be sent to a designated segregation unit, but are often locked up in their own cells.

Howard League chief executive Frances Crook said: “Prisoners punished with confinement will have their things taken away and are locked up with no stimulation.

“If there are cellmates involved, that creates a lot of resentment and tension, since taking away things like TVs and radios effectively punishes them as well.”

The Howard League said it recognises that sanctioning rule breakers is necessary, but said an incentive and praise-focused system would be more effective.

Ms Crook added: “Justice is not a synonym for punishment.

“Prisons should be trying to create hope for the future, rather than trying to punish their way out of problems.”

An HM Prison Service spokesperson said: “It is right that governors who know their prisons best have the freedom to decide how to deal with those who break the rules.

“We are reviewing the existing disciplinary processes as part of our wider programme of prison reform.”

Across England and Wales, nearly 7,000 incidents over the three-month period resulted in almost 50,000 days of confinement - the equivalent of 130 years locked up.