10:26 GMT +321 July 2018
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    Wormwood Scrubs Prison in west London

    Tensions Spark in UK Prisons Over Smoking Ban

    © AFP 2018 / POOL/PAUL HACKETT
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    A prison officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Sputnik that plans to roll out the smoking ban across all prisons in England and Wales in 2018 will endanger staff and prisoners.

    "The impact of banning prisoners from smoking will have a detrimental effect on their mental health and that concerns me. Staff are already under pressure and at risk of violence. Forcing prisoners to give up will lead to more aggressive behaviour," the officer told Sputnik.

    Inmates at HMP Birmingham, a prison plagued with riots and violence, recently chanted "we want burn" relating to a recent smoking ban. 

    A year after inmates rioted for 12 hours causing US$8 million worth of damage across four prison wings, the situation at HMP Birmingham remains "volatile," according to a prison officer union. 

    READ MORE: About 600 Inmates Riot in UK Birmingham Prison, Several People Injured

    Joe Simpson, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officer's Association told newspaper, Birmingham Mail: "At present HMP Birmingham is the most violent prison in the country according to the Violence Diagnostic Tool, which is supposedly used by management as a way of looking at where and when violence is happening and how it can be prevented."

    'Lethal' 

    Banning smoking in jails is also "dangerous", according to a recent article in prison magazine Inside Times, and has made prisons much more dangerous than they previously were, and they were already pretty dangerous to begin with." 

    Riots at other jails have been blamed on the smoking ban. Glyn Travis of the Prison Officer's Association told the magazine, stopping inmates from smoking in jails is "lethal." 

    "It is a lethal cocktail and could lead to more violence and riots."

    Richard Stedman, HMP Birmingham prison's director also told the newspaper: "Since the disturbance last year, Birmingham has undergone a number of significant changes. 

    "Birmingham deals with some challenging individuals and the whole team is tremendously determined and committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all staff and the men in our care." #prison #prisonriots #HMPBIRMINGHAM friend inside says it's like a tinder box still despite transfers. No association at all.

    Britain's Ministry of Justice has banned smoking in more than half of the 120 jails in England and Wales. The nation wide policy is expected to be completed by the end of March 2018.

    Related:

    UK Police Form Special Squad to Tackle Drone Threat to Prison Security
    UK Smugglers Use Drone to Deliver Drugs to Prison
    Violence at Iconic UK Prison Surges, Both Staff & Inmates Afraid for Their Lives
    Tags:
    prison conditions, jail, prison, violence, smoking ban, smoking, United Kingdom
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