Prisoners' compensation scandal

PRISONERS in Suffolk have received almost �100,000 in compensation from the taxpayer in the past four years, the EADT can reveal.

Anthony Bond

PRISONERS in Suffolk have received almost �100,000 in compensation from the taxpayer in the past four years, the EADT can reveal.

The successful claims included two heroin-addicted prisoners who claimed their human rights were infringed when they were deprived of the heroin substitute methadone.

The prisoners, one from Blundeston, near Lowestoft, and the other at Highpoint, near Newmarket, were paid �3,807 each following an out-of-court settlement by the Government in 2006.

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In total, �93,919 has been paid out in compensation to convicted criminals in Suffolk's five prisons in the past four years.

The figures were obtained by the EADT following a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice.

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One young offender at Warren Hill, near Woodbridge, was paid �10,000 recently after he was injured following an assault by a member of staff.

Of the 28 successful compensation claims, the majority followed injuries sustained by prisoners, often from slips, trips or falls.

A number of prisoners received compensation after their property was lost or damaged. There were also successful claims for medical negligence and unlawful detention.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said he would now table some questions in Parliament to find out how many claims prisoners were making to the Prison Service.

“I think you have brought to my attention something which is a total abuse of the whole litigation procedures in this country and we need to know more,” he said.

“This may be the tip of the iceberg. Are there endless spurious claims being made? Are we seeing millions of claims that are not being successful but tie up the whole process and are very costly? The law must make sure that if you are a prisoner, you cannot initiate proceedings against the Prison Service on ridiculous grounds. We now live in a litigious society and we cannot have a situation where prisoners take advantage.”

Out of the five prisons, the most amount of compensation went to prisoners at Hollesley Bay, near Woodbridge, with �31,850 over the four-year period.

This includes �24,250 paid out in 2006/7 following four separate claims, including three for injuries as a result of slips, trips or falls.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “We successfully defend the majority of contested claims. We make payments only when we are instructed to do so by the courts or where strong legal advice suggests that a settlement will save public money.”

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