HMP Highpoint sees 12 arson incidents in past year
PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:59 22 May 2019
A Suffolk prison has seen 12 arson incidents in the past year, latest statistics have revealed.
A total of 16 fires have broken out at HMP Highpoint in Stradishall, near Haverhill, in the past year and 12 were started deliberately, according to the Prison Service.
The statistics were released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) after two fires broke out at the Suffolk jail in the past five days.
Fire crews were contacted on Friday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 21, but prison staff were able to extinguish the blazes before their arrival and no-one was injured.
Four crews responded to reports of a cell fire around 12.45pm on Friday, but no action was required by the fire service.
The East of England Ambulance Service were also alerted to the incident, but were later advised that no hospital transport was required by the patient, who had been assessed at the prison.
On Tuesday around 8.10am, three crews were also dispatched to the Category C jail - two from Haverhill and one from Clare - to investigate another blaze but no action took place.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "A small fire in a bin was extinguished on Tuesday by prison staff at HMP Highpoint before the fire service arrived.
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"There were no injuries to staff or prisoners."
The Prison Service revealed that no prisoners or staff have been injured in the 16 fires at the prison and no significant damage was caused. In each instance over the past year, prison staff were able to extinguish the fires before crews arrived.
The Prison Service said inmates who set fires will be placed on report and can expect to face punishment.
Faith Spear, criminologist, prison commentator and campaigner, said inmates starting deliberate fires can be a cry for help.
"Often arson is linked with mental health or a cry for help and attention," she said.
"Prisons are violent dangerous places and often the issues that have put people there have not been addressed during their sentences.
"Overcrowding, lack of purposeful activities and being locked up for up to 23 hours all adds to instability."
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Data published last year from Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) revealed that inmates at HMP Highpoint protested against officers more than 100 times in 2017-18.
The statistics revealed prisoners at the Suffolk jail were involved in 104 protest incidents during 2017-18 such as barricading themselves in cells and blocking doors.