Prisoners RIOTING over a Government smoking ban

Prisoners have already started rioting ahead of a total smoking ban across many UK jails, it was revealed today.

Tobacco will gradually be outlawed in English jails from August 31 – but inmates have revealed that troublemakers started rioting as soon as the ban was announced.

Some ‘nicotine addict’ prisoners became violent and staged sit-ins knowing they would be moved to another jail where they can smoke freely.

Inmates in Drake Hall Women’s Prison went berserk and sat on the roof after a ban was tested there in May, one insider said.

Inmates in Drake Hall Women's Prison went berserk and sat on the roof after cigarettes were removed from sale and smoking was banned in a trial there in May

Inmates in Drake Hall Women's Prison went berserk and sat on the roof after cigarettes were removed from sale and smoking was banned in a trial there in May

Inmates in Drake Hall Women’s Prison went berserk and sat on the roof after cigarettes were removed from sale and smoking was banned in a trial there in May

Britain's toughest jails are preparing themselves for unrest and violence when a smoking ban comes into force across UK jails on August 31 (file image)

Britain's toughest jails are preparing themselves for unrest and violence when a smoking ban comes into force across UK jails on August 31 (file image)

Britain’s toughest jails are preparing themselves for unrest and violence when a smoking ban comes into force across UK jails on August 31 (file image)

One woman recently released from the Staffordshire jail told Metro.co.uk: ‘We got all the leaflets about how the ban was going to happen – first the shop would stop selling tobacco, and then the total ban would come in.

Prisoners won back right to smoke in their cells just last year

Senior judges ruled in 2016 that the ban on smoking in public places did not apply to state run jails. 

The decision meant that prisoners won back the right to smoke in their cells.

In a key ruling, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court judgment that the 2007 ban covered all public places and workplaces in England and Wales.

It means the Government can carry on with its plans to roll out a ban in jails gradually – but could not impose a blanket ban.

Government lawyers had warned against a ‘particularly vigorous’ ban on smoking in prisons amid fears it could spark disturbances and risk the safety of staff and inmates. 

‘Within the first week of the shop stopping selling it there was a riot. Loads of prisoners refused to go back to their cells and it was mayhem.

‘There were women screaming and shouting, sitting on the roofs of blocks. After it calmed down a lot of those involved were transferred, probably to prisons where they can smoke.

‘If women in an open prison riot, then what are all the men in a maximum security jail going to do?’

Four in every five inmates currently smoke, and the decision to force them to be smoke-free by August 31 has not been well received.

Some prisons in England and Wales have decided to bring in smoke free rules gradually – first taking them off sale before banning smoking in cells and prison grounds.

It appears urban Category B jails in cities will be longer-term projects. 

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) says it intends to make all jails north of the border ‘smoke-free’ by November 2018. 

Alex Cavendish, who is now a prison academic having spent time in jail himself, said that prisoners will cause trouble to get moved from a smoke-free jail.

Mr Cavendish also believes that smuggling of cigarettes in by family or corrupt staff will be a major problem. 

He told Metro: ‘Hard core nicotine addicts know that they only need to cause trouble for staff before they are “shipped out” to another establishment.

‘This in turn is reflected in a rise of disciplinary offences, including violence.

‘Another key concern is the potential impact of a smoking ban on the smuggling of contraband tobacco into prisons, either by visitors or by corrupt members of staff.’ 

A trial was held across 21 prisons in Wales last year, with a sharp spike in fighting and vandalism reported at HMP Cardiff.

Convicts are being encouraged to sign up for courses and replacement devices in order to help them kick the habit before the deadline.

Aside from the risk of increased trouble, critics fear the move could see an rise in contraband substances, such as Spice, being smuggled in.

Belmarsh and Strangeways are among the notorious jails where some of the country’s most ferocious prisoners will have to deal with the changes.

Many prisons across Britain currently allow inmates to smoke in their cells - because it is classed as their 'home' -  but not in communal parts of the jail or in exercise yards (file photo)

Many prisons across Britain currently allow inmates to smoke in their cells - because it is classed as their 'home' -  but not in communal parts of the jail or in exercise yards (file photo)

Many prisons across Britain currently allow inmates to smoke in their cells – because it is classed as their ‘home’ –  but not in communal parts of the jail or in exercise yards (file photo)

Prisoners are smoking e-cigarettes as part of a move which could lead to a ban on smoking in jails - and these are being sold in some jails

Prisoners are smoking e-cigarettes as part of a move which could lead to a ban on smoking in jails - and these are being sold in some jails

Prisoners are smoking e-cigarettes as part of a move which could lead to a ban on smoking in jails – and these are being sold in some jails

In April 2016 three prisoners staged a seven-hour rooftop protest over a smoking ban at their jail.

They were visible from the street and were shouting to passers-by. A week earlier fellow HMP Swansea inmate Dean George, 40, killed himself after he was prevented from lighting up, it was claimed.

Swansea introduced a trial ban in the January. Officials said it had been operating normally since then and that all prisoners have support to quit smoking if they need it. They denied widespread unrest. 

Four jails in Wales went smokefree in January and four in England will follow suit within a few weeks. 

The Prison Service will enforce a smoking ban – but only when it is safe – meaning it will not be a blanket ban. 

A MoJ spokesman said: ‘We have always been clear that we would not set any arbitrary targets for prisons to become smoke-free.

‘They will only become smoke-free when it is safe to do so. This phased introduction will reduce the risk to staff and prisoners of exposure to second hand smoke, whilst maintaining the safety and security of our prisons.’

  

 


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