Britain's prison anarchy is growing - we need more staff to stop it

was fortunate to play a small role advising the makers of last night’s BBC Panorama expose of the shocking state of HMP Northumberland. As a former prison Governor, my advance view of the footage threw up conflicting emotions. I felt sorry for staff at that beleaguered establishment, so graphically unable to cope, who would have their helplessness broadcast to prisoners they would face in the morning at unlock. Prisons are predatory places – today there will be blood in the water.On the other hand public interest demands the extent of disorder, bordering on anarchy, which exists in this privately operated prison is exposed. Here was a chilling but necessary dispatch from the front line of an impoverished penal system. 

By Ian Acheson