Deputy Editor Kirstie Sutherland reports on a magnitude 4.4 earthquake which has affected parts of the West Midlands, including UoB's main campus.Written by Kirstie Sutherland on 17th February 2018
Birmingham Prison Rioters Sentenced
Five prisoners at HMP Birmingham have been sentenced to 36 years in jail following the prison riots that took place in December 2016.
The five men sentenced were the supposed ringleaders of the 12 hour riot, which led to extensive damage in the prison costing more than £6 million. The men were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court last month.
The riot began when inmates jumped onto suicide netting, whilst another managed to get hold of a guard’s keys and release other prisoners. The inmates created bonfires, fired missiles and used injured prisoners as bait in what has been deemed the worst prison riot since the Strangeways jail riot of 1990. The riots followed a series of disturbances across British prisons towards the end of last year. Lewes and Bedford prison also experienced trouble.
The five men involved in the riots have now all had their sentences extended, with Luke Mansell, 24, and John Burton, 39, both being sentenced to nine years for their involvement. Ross Wilkinson, 24, Robert Smith, 34, and Nathan Weston, 23, were also given six-year sentences for prison mutiny.
Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, Michael Spurr spoke to the BBC about the reasons behind the riots, putting it down to reduced levels of staff, overcrowding and drugs, which are all adding to the pressure of managing prisons. Spurr added that £1.3 billion would be invested into prisons over the next five years, with the intentions to increase staffing levels, introduce drug testing on inmates and give individual prison governors more independence.
Despite recent investments, rioting is becoming an increasing concern for British prisons. Within Western Europe, Britain has the highest per capita prison population, with an increase of almost double between 1990 and 2015. However, as the number of inmates has risen, the strain has increased on the services and spaces available. This has resulted in an increasing amount of disturbances among inmates, as well as the highest suicide rate the British prison system has ever seen.