Plaid AM hits back in war of words with UK Government
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has hit back at the Ministry of Justice over conditions at HMP Berwyn.
Mr Gruffydd, who called the high levels of assaults on staff and prisoners evidence of a catastrophic failure, said the latest data showed that HMP Berwyn is currently failing prison staff on an spectacular scale. He was attacked by the Ministry of Justice who said he was doing a ‘disservice’ to prison staff.
Mr Gruffydd responded: “Frontline staff are bearing the brunt of these attacks and deserve greater support. To hide behind them rather than address the issues does the Ministry of Justice no favours.
“Let’s be clear about the frightening rise in violence at this prison, which was only opened two years ago and seen as a model for the future. Despite this, the number of assaults on staff increased by 405% in 2018 at a time when its population climbed by 116%.
“The total number of assaults on staff rose from 40 in 2017 to 202 in 2018). That means that, on average, a member of prison staff was assaulted every two days at HMP Berwyn in 2018. Perhaps this information might provide a clearer insight into who is doing a ‘disservice’ to prison staff at Berwyn.”
Mr Gruffydd also challenged the Ministry of Justice to confirm what he had been told in the wake of the report: “Since the publicity surrounding this report into HMP Berwyn and other Welsh prisons by the Welsh Governance Centre, I have been told that 32 prison officers have left HMP Berwyn in the past five weeks and that 17-year-old officers with no experience are patrolling the landings. Would the Ministry of Justice care to comment on these allegations?”