Ian Acheson

Ian Acheson

Professor Ian Acheson is a former prison governor. He was also Director of Community Safety at the Home Office

Tommy Robinson and the truth about two-tier policing

Tommy Robinson, a self-invented English ‘patriot’, was free to attend yesterday’s St George’s Day event in central London which descended into ugly clashes between participants and police. Earlier in the day, he had been released from court after successfully arguing that a police dispersal order that resulted in his arrest and charge in November last

Prisons have lost the war on drugs

Aldous Huxley’s dystopian best seller Brave New World, published back in 1934, envisaged a society where stability was enforced by a numbing drug called ‘soma’. Constant consumption of soma, mandated by the state, dulled the senses, vanished despair and discouraged rebellion. I was reminded of this by comments made by some of the Times‘ new

Suella Braverman is wrong to call for Mark Rowley to go

Why did Gideon Falter cross the road? Or try to? That is a question that went viral this weekend. A video emerged of Falter, who leads the Campaign Against Antisemitism, being threatened by police for trying to cross a pro-Palestinian protest in central London. He was wearing a kippah and carrying a prayer shawl bag,

Who will take responsibility for our appalling prisons?

We know our prison system is awash with drugs but just what are they smoking at the Ministry of Justice? A shocking story in the Times yesterday revealed what a desperate state Britain’s jails are in. Paul Morgan-Bentley, an undercover reporter, was hired at breakneck speed to work as a uniformed Operational Support Grade (OSG)

Only radical reform will save our overcrowded prisons

What should we do when there’s no cell space left in our disordered jails? The prison population figures published yesterday show a small drop compared to last week, with nearly 87,900 currently incarcerated. There’s precious little room for manoeuvre. We are perilously close to a time I can remember back in the mid-90s when governors

Have the Tories finally woken up to the extremism problem?

Michael Gove has a reliable track record for sounding the alarm on ideological hatred, so are his latest proposals on redefining extremism a cure for what ails us? The communities secretary has unveiled a plan to broaden the definition of extremism. The new official meaning aims to ban those with a ‘violent or intolerant’ ideology

Does France hold the key to cracking down on Islamist extremism?

Are we being ‘poisoned’ by extremism? The Prime Minister seems to think so. His speech on the steps of Downing Street following the Rochdale by-election described a country where values of tolerance and civility were being deliberately undermined by Islamists and the far right. ‘Islamist extremists and the far right feed off and embolden each other,’

Why Prevent is still failing to tackle Islamist extremism

What is the core mission of the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy? When William Shawcross presented his review of our flagship counter extremism programme last year, he was clear: it was to stop people turning into tomorrow’s terrorists. The Home Office agreed, at least politically. How’s that going? A year after Shawcross reported on Prevent’s departure from counter terror watchdog

Should Brianna Ghey’s killers ever be released?

In the wicked murder of poor Brianna Ghey, it’s not hyperbole to say the Devil is in the details. Thousands of text messages sent between her two teenage killers were divulged in a court case that describe a moral void in their lives that veers between the banal and the satanic. It is clear that

What will fix Britain’s prisons?

19 min listen

HMP Bedford was issued with an urgent notification yesterday, meaning it must immediately make reforms to improve. It’s the fifth prison to receive such a notification this year. What’s going wrong in Britain’s prisons, and what will fix them? Max Jeffery speaks to former prison governor Ian Acheson and former prisoner David Shipley.

Keeping the peace: the politics of policing protest

41 min listen

On the podcast: In his cover piece for The Spectator Ian Acheson discusses the potential disruption to Armistice Day proceedings in London this weekend. He says that Metropolitan Police Chief Mark Rowley is right to let the pro-Palestine protests go ahead, if his officers can assertively enforce the law. He joins the podcast alongside Baroness Claire Fox

Keeping the peace: the politics of policing protest

Armistice Day is meant to be a moment of solemn national unity. Yet this year it is expected to coincide with the rather less harmonious ‘Million March for Palestine’, as hundreds of thousands gather in central London on Saturday to protest against Israel’s war on Gaza. Are these events compatible? Should the protest be banned?

Why hasn’t the UK outlawed the IRGC?

As the scale and barbarity of the Hamas terrorist assault on Israel begins to unfold, to no-one’s surprise Iran has leant its formal support to the insurgents. While thousands of rockets rain down on Israeli civilians and and Iran’s proxies pull men women and children out of their homes — murdering them in the streets

Who’s really to blame for the Wandsworth jailbreak?

There’s fevered speculation about inside jobs or state actors involved in the HMP Wandsworth prison break by terror suspect Daniel Khalife. But as police close in on Richmond park, whether he’s found cowering in a ditch or at a press conference in Tehran, this dramatic escape reveals just how close we are to a full

Why Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable had to go

Simon Byrne, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland’s beleaguered police force, has stepped down. It’s about time. The country’s police service, created to oversee a changing society in the aftermath of the Good Friday agreement, has been reeling from a succession of scandals. These stories – not least involving the leak of details about 10,000

How Sinn Fein captured Northern Ireland’s police force

Policing any part of the United Kingdom is a difficult enough task these days. Policing the part of it where the national security threat is highest and the personal details of all officers and staff are now likely in the hands of terrorists after an embarrassing data breach is a whole other story.  We are

The importance of remembering the Omagh bombing

On this day, 25 years ago, not long after the ink had dried on the Good Friday Agreement, a car bomb exploded in the market town of Omagh in Country Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The bomb had been set in the town’s busy main shopping area by dissident republican terrorists styling themselves as the ‘Real IRA’.

What the stabbing of Ian Watkins says about our prisons

This weekend, armed assailants tortured a prisoner and held him hostage in HMP Wakefield for six hours, before specialist prison staff stormed the cell. The prisoner was taken to hospital with stab wounds. Much has been made of the fact that he is Ian Watkins, the front man of the group Lostprophets, who was imprisoned

The Dartmoor appeal win is a victory against wealthy landowners

This evening, activists will gather under Haytor, Dartmoor’s iconic landmark rocks, to celebrate what feels like a rare victory for the right of citizens to roam. Today, the court of appeal has overturned an earlier decision that ended an assumed and ancient right: that which allowed you to lay your hat and your home without