Series 5 Factsheets
Christopher Biggins visit to Larkhall provides just the opportunity the media-savvy women need to draw attention to their feelings about the prison being privatized. They take him hostage and, although he is clearly frightened, manage to convince him of their cause. Once released he speaks to the press on their behalf and Linford Securities withdraws its bid.
Prison protests are not as common as you might think, and very frequently they do not achieve what the prisoners want. Women tend to be less inclined to riot or take hostages than men in prison, though there are occasional incidents.
The best known prison protests in recent years happened in 1990 and started at Strangeways prison in Manchester. Prisoners climbed on the roof and stayed there for 25 days. Much of the prison was wrecked and rioting followed at other prisons around the country. That protest related to prison conditions and was followed by the Woolf Enquiry which made far-reaching recommendations both about conditions and about the way prison riots are handled.
Many of the recommendations of the Woolf report have been implemented - prisoners now have incentives to behave well, sentence plans are made so that the best use can be made of their time in prison and far more prisoners are able to attend education and gain basic skills. Complaints procedures for prisoners have improved and there is now a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman who is able to follow up complaints which have not been satisfactorily resolved. Unfortunately it is not all good. The prisons are now very overcrowded again with the result that prisoners are held far from home. Families and friends find it difficult to visit although it is well known that keeping these relationships going helps prevent reoffending.
For further information on the issues covered in this section, please visit The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies website.