'Six fires every week' at Yorkshire's prisons

Inside HMP Leeds, where 46 fires were reported in 2016.
Inside HMP Leeds, where 46 fires were reported in 2016.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed there were 315 fires in prisons across Yorkshire over the past year - the equivalent of six blazes every week.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed there were 315 fires in prisons across Yorkshire over the past year - the equivalent of six blazes every week.

HMP Doncaster recorded the most incidents, with 75 fires between January and December 2016, followed by Wetherby young offenders’ institution with 54 fires reported.

Nationally, the total number of fires in prisons across England and Wales is on the rise - with 2,560 in 2016, up 43 per cent from the 1,935 reported in 2015.

The increase was described as “extremely concerning” by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who told the Yorkshire Post it raises questions about the safety of both inmates and prison staff.

The Ministry of Justice said the incidents included both deliberate and accidental fires and most were “relatively minor”.

The 51 fires at HMP Moorland in South Yorkshire was the third highest number of fires in Yorkshire last year, with HMP Leeds close behind with 46.

Thameside Prison in London topped the national table, recording a total of 101 fires

At the other end of the scale, HMP Wakefield recorded just five fires in 2016 and HMP Full Sutton near Pocklington had one.

The figures come from a Commons question submitted by Mr Farron MP, who said: “The number of fires in our prisons is extremely concerning, raising questions of safety for both inmates and prison staff. Prison staff have faced years of cuts. The government must now make sure that there are enough staff to maintain control of our prisons and ensure that the safety of both staff and inmates is not put at risk. The fact that the number of incidents is on the rise shows the need for urgent action.”

Prisons minister Sam Gyimah said the fires cover a “wide range of circumstances” and added: “We will never compromise on the safety of those in our care, and staff are trained to respond to emergency situations in a timely, appropriate manner.”