Bullying among Prisoners: Evidence, Research and Intervention Strategies

Bullying among Prisoners: Evidence, Research and Intervention Strategies

Bullying among Prisoners: Evidence, Research and Intervention Strategies

Bullying among Prisoners: Evidence, Research and Intervention Strategies

Synopsis

Bullying in prisons can have severe consequences both for those directly involved and for the prison regime as a whole, yet the subject has been curiously neglected in the literature. In 1993, the Prison Service introduced their first anti-bullying strategy, and since then there has been a great deal of research on the subject. Bullying Among Prisonerssummarises this research, and seeks to answer some important questions.
Bullying Among Prisonersidentifies problems in defining and measuring bullying, along with proposing guidelines on how research in this field should be conducted. The book covers:
• what bullying is
• how and why it occurs
• the effects of bullying
• practical strategies for preventing bullying.
By outlining a series of interventions that can be employed to address bullying, this book will prove an invaluable resource for all those working directly with the perpetrators and victims, not only in prisons but also in a range of settings such as regional secure units and special hospitals.

Excerpt

The aim of the Criminal Justice System is to protect the public by preventing crime. The Statement of Purpose of the Prison Service reads that prisoners are to be kept secure throughout the time that they have been committed by the courts, to be treated with humanity and helped to lead useful and law-abiding lives in prison and on release. In essence this means that everything possible must be done to prevent prisoners re-offending on release.

Nothing undermines the smooth running of a custodial establishment, and so its ability to satisfy the Statement of Purpose and achieve the Aim, more than a climate of fear – fear amongst staff about their treatment by management and other staff members, or fear that they may be assaulted by prisoners; fear amongst prisoners that they may be assaulted by staff, or not be protected from being assaulted by other prisoners; fear amongst those who work at or visit an establishment about how they will be treated. These may sound like extremes that could never happen in the United Kingdom in 2001.

But, only very recently, a further three Prison Service senior officers and officers were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for ill-treating prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs. Furthermore, the officers had compounded their offence by alleging that they themselves had been assaulted by the prisoner, to which assault they had merely responded. They were clearly acting on the unspoken assumption that stories told by staff would be believed because they were staff, and that stories told by prisoners would not be believed because they were prisoners. Fear among the prisoners that their allegations are unlikely to be believed is itself a form of bullying because of the mental pressure that it exerts on prisoners. The fact that the courts believed the prisoner and not the staff is of great significance, not just because we are now in what has been described as the Human Rights era, but because it sent an important signal to those who might be tempted . . .

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