Prisoner punishments at HM Bure drop during lockdown
- Credit: Colin Finch
Inmates at HM Prison Bure were handed dozens of extra punishments in just three months after breaking rules, figures show.
But drastically curtailed prison regimes, cell confinements and other restrictions contributed to a national drop in adjudication hearings after prisoners were accused of rule-breaking during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministry of Justice data shows 42 adjudications were recorded concerning possible rule breaches at Bure between January and March, down from 142 during the same period in 2020. Of those, 33 (79pc) resulted in a guilty verdict.
Adjudicators can punish inmates with a range of disciplinary measures, from adding days to their sentences to stopping earnings and taking away their privileges.
Separate figures show punishments recorded in that quarter included two cases involving violence, 16 linked to disobedience and three concerning unauthorised transactions, which could involve drugs or alcohol.
Unruly convicts at Bure, some of whom may have received more than one punishment at an adjudication, were handed a total of 62 punishments between January and March, with the most common being the forfeiture of privileges.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said additional days could pile pressure on the prison population and worsen overcrowding, rather than solve problems.
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She said: "The prison system has been hugely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with institutions running drastically curtailed regimes that keep prisoners isolated in their cells for the vast majority of the day.
"These draconian restrictions have impacted on adjudications and the imposition of additional days of imprisonment."
HM Bure is located in the part of Scottow known as Badersfield, and is next to the former RAF Coltishall air base.
The Prison Service said social distancing and reduced contact time between prisoners and staff throughout the pandemic resulted in less indiscipline, adjudication and related punishments.
A spokesperson added: “Our essential measures to save lives and limit the spread of the virus in our prisons led to fewer adjudications during the pandemic.”
The number of referrals for adjudications fell far below the level of previous years due to the suspension of disciplinary hearings requiring independent adjudicators between March and June 2020.