Lamentable Tory rhetoric on prisons | Letters

Nick Moss and Joe Sim respond to justice secretary David Gauke’s proposals plans to recategorise prisoners into higher-security prisons based on their continuing risk of criminality in jailThe justice secretary David Gauke offers up more repackaging of stale news with his proposed “plan to recategorise prisoners into higher-security prisons based on their continuing risk of criminality in jail” (Tougher jails for more than 6,000 prisoners with crime gang links, 6 March). Security categorisation is already determined by assessment of the risks posed by a prisoner in terms of likelihood of escape or abscondment, the risk of harm to the public in the event of an escape or abscond, and any control issues that impact on the security and good order of the prison and the safety of those within it.

At present, prisons are to assign to the prisoner the lowest security category consistent with managing those risks. Gauke either appears to be planning to tear this up and deny gang-related prisoners the possibility of transfer to open conditions or to be planning no change at all. Already, information relevant to the categorisation decision may be withheld from the prisoner “for the prevention of crime or disorder, including information relevant to prison security or for the protection of a third party”. This is a prison informer’s charter, with prisoners stuck in high-security conditions without knowing or being able to challenge the reasons why.

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