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Figures are available for the last eight years. The 2007 figures do not include the three prisons (Albany, Camphill and Parkhurst) where the incident recording has transferred to the NOMIS system which is not currently accessed from Prison Service headquarters.
Since 2004, a national strategy has directed every public sector prison to have in place a local violence reduction strategy. This policy has recently been revised and from mid-2007 applied to both the public sector and contracted estate. The strategy requires each prison to undertake regular analysis of the problem areas, consider solutions and provide an action plan to improve personal safety and reduce violence. All closed establishments are required to undertake a cell-sharing risk assessment to inform cell allocation. A good practice toolkit supports the violence reduction strategy and guides establishments to develop practical solutions, including environmental and physical measures as well as alternative ways of managing behaviour.
As set out in the NOMS National Security Framework (NSF), establishments deploy a comprehensive range of robust searching techniques and security measures to detect and uncover weapons at the point of entry or concealed in the establishment. Such measures include the rub down and full searching of prisoners, staff and visitors, as appropriate; the use of technical devices, such as metal detectors; the deployment of searching dogs and the routine and intelligence-led searching of living accommodation and communal areas.
While figures indicate that the numbers of assaults has risen in recent years, it is not possible to quantify how much of this is due to the rise in prison population, increased reporting, better data processing, or an actual increase in incidents. The increase during the earlier part of the period is most likely to do with changes in the reporting system (increase in available fields/ranges of incident capture). Additionally, a violence reduction strategydating from 2004 and revised in 2007has further encouraged better recording. Rises in assaults may also be linked to imported violence (more prisoners held for violent offences (in 1996 prisoners held for offences of violence against the person accounted for 18 per cent. of first receptions into immediate custody, by 2005 this had risen to 23 per cent.)).
The reported numbers are useful for internal management purposes, but they should not be considered as absolute. Data on assaults are complex. In particular, the level of detail requested here means that the totals in this response will not necessarily match figures provided in previous NOMS responses.
|(a) Incidents involving weapons in young offender institutions|
| Note: Two young offender institutions in England and Wales re-rolled to prisons in this period. Their figures are included in table (b).|
|(b) Incidents involving weapons in prisons in England and Wales|
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