Tom Goodenough Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: Britain’s ‘dangerous’ prisons and Brexit ‘indecision’

The decision by prison staff to walkout yesterday before returning to their posts following a court ruling leads many of the newspaper editorials today. There is some sympathy for the difficult job being done by jail staff – but the papers say that officers leaving their posts isn’t the answer. Elsewhere, yesterday’s Brexit memo which suggested the government’s plan for leaving the EU is in a shambles is also a talking point in the newspapers. Here’s what the papers are saying today:

The Sun says the action taken yesterday by prison staff to walkout was ‘shameful’. The paper says that it’s clear there is ‘dangerous chaos’ in Britain’s jails but ‘crippling prisons’ and ‘disrupting trials’ was no way of dealing with the problem. Instead, the Sun throws its weight behind justice secretary Liz Truss, saying it’s clear from her proposed reforms, including upping the number of guards by 2,500 and offering a ‘£100m injection’, that she is well aware of the task in hand. But prison officers ‘throwing a strop’ isn’t any way to try and resolve matters, the paper adds.

There’s less support for Liz Truss in the Times which says it’s time for the justice secretary to show ‘a little less caution’ and a ‘little more ambition’ in her package of reforms. It says her plans so far are ‘sensible enough’ and that hiring prison officers is a good step ahead. But these piecemeal problems will do little to address the bigger issue: overcrowding. The Times says that the prison population has doubled in the last 20 years, and it says it’s time for Truss to ‘reduce the number and length go custodial sentences’. The paper goes on to suggest that Truss’s predecessors have been guilty of stalling on this front – but it says that if the new justice secretary really wants to tackle this problem once and for all, it’s time to prevent too many petty criminals from ending up behind bars in the first place.

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