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Friday, March 18, 2011

Soft cell Ken

Soft cell Ken

By GRAEME WILSON, Deputy Political Editor

Published: Today

WEAK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has axed routine searches of lags' cells, The Sun can reveal.

In a move governors believe could lead to breakouts, wardens will instead act on inmates' tip-offs.

Cons will also find it easier to hide drugs, booze, mobile phones and weapons, it is feared.

Mr Clarke's policy change was sneaked out last year with little fanfare.

It applies to all jails except the UK's eight high-security prisons.

Prison Officers Association assistant secretary Glyn Travis said: "Ken Clarke is going soft on prisons and putting security at risk to cut costs. If you're not checking the bolts on the doors and the bars on the windows on a routine basis, more and more prisoners will try to escape.

"It also makes it more difficult to stop them bringing drugs or alcohol into jail."

He said lags could also give bogus information to put wardens on the wrong track.

Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan added: "Thorough, regular searches are vital in keeping prisons secure and staff safe. The Government needs to make assurances that their policy change won't lead to fewer searches. That would be deeply worrying."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Routine searching is often very ineffective in discovering illicit items either on prisoners or in cells.

"Intelligence-led, targeted searching is a much more effective security measure."

Comment: I fail to see how cutting back on routine cell searches will make it more difficult to stop prisoners bringing drugs or alcohol into jail, especially when it tends to be prison officers smuggling them into prison in the first place!

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