UK Government set to ban smoking in prison cells

The UK Conservative Party are due to start enacting a new law banning smoking in prison cells – despite admitting that it is highly likely guards will now peddle tobacco as an illicit currency

  • By Zaynep Kaya

The first stage of the highly controversial ban will come into act in all jails in Wales and four in South-West England as of the new year 2016.

As of next month the ban will also include all interior spaces in open prisons is both England and Wales.

The plan is to eventually roll out the ban across all prisons in England and Wales.

The problem is with such a ban is that prisoners whom spend on average 23 hours a day in a highly over crowded, small and uncomfortable cell barely fit for animal inhabitants are regarded as “living” in their cells, and under UK law the government can no stop any person over the legal age restriction from smoking in their residence. As such the ban is regarded by the majority of professionals in the legal industry as illegal.

The second problem is that as one high ranking prison official whom wishes not to be named remarked: “whether it’s the staff or inmates tobacco will become an illicit currency, potentially increasing the risks of inmate violence”  

The UK currently has a huge overcrowding problem in it’s prisons with 2 to 4 adult men in a tiny cell barely designed to contain one. Whilst the lack of smoke may benefit their health, it may not benefit their life expectancy, confined inmates serving long sentences with not way of venting frustrations and suffering from nicotine withdrawals is a disaster more designed than waiting to happen.

This is a situation brought in to stark light when we consider that the UK has the world’s highest percentage of innocent inmates. Staggeringly high percentages of inmates who serve significant and often full sentences before ultimately being cleared of any wrong doing continue to mar the already poor reputation of the English legal and justice system.

Z.Kaya@theinternational.org.uk