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Prisoners received £1,000,000 in compensation for lost property

Prisoners have received more than a million pounds in compensation for lost or damaged belongings, new figures reveal.

A total of £1,075,594.80 compensation has been paid over the last five years, for 13,023 claims including missing clothing, trainers and DVD players.

The lowest payout was just 57p for a ‘lost or damaged’ TV magazine.

In 2017-18 alone, compensation was paid out for damage to tracksuit bottoms (£10) at Risley prison in Cheshire, £3 for a T-shirt in High Down, Surrey, and £150 for a stereo at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire.

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Six-figure sums were paid out in each of the four years, adding up to £855,541.02 (Picture: Rex)

An inmate in Rochester, Kent was repaid £5.25 after items they bought at the prison shop were lost, while another prisoner ion Elmley, Kent was reimbursed for £20.80 after his tobacco went missing.

In December, it was revealed that 10,357 compensation payments were issued to inmates held at state prisons in England and Wales for lost and damaged property from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

Six-figure sums were paid out in each of the four years, adding up to £855,541.02.

New statistics obtained from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) following a further Freedom of Information request by the Press Association show 2,666 awards were made in relation to prisoners’ belongings in 2017-18, at a total cost of £220,053.78.

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Following the latest revelations, the head of the Commons Justice committee called on jails to ‘sort it out’, while the Prison Service said it successfully defends two-thirds of all compensation cases brought by prisoners.

The earlier FOI response showed hair clippers, a dressing gown and trainers were among lost items covered by successful compensation claims in 2016-17.

There were 41 more compensation awards in 2017-18 compared to the year before and the total amount paid out was nearly £21,000 higher.

Authorised belongings can be held in possession, meaning the prisoner keeps the item on them or in their cell, while excess items can be stored locally at the jail or at a central depot.

Rules allow for inmates to lodge complaints and claims for compensation when property is lost or damaged.

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Last year then Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen called on the prison service to ‘get a grip’ on the way property is managed (Picture: PA)

Last year then Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen called on the prison service to ‘get a grip’ on the way property is managed.

The issue has also been flagged up by independent monitoring boards at a number of prisons, with one recent report saying the disappearance of property on transfer between establishments seems to be an ‘intractable’ problem.

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Conservative MP Bob Neill, who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, said: ‘This issue has been raised at a number of our recent prison visits, so these figures do not come as a surprise.

‘Property is a regular source of complaint to both the Prison and Probation Ombudsman and independent monitoring boards.

‘Until prisons properly follow the clear guidance from the Ombudsman, scarce resources, not to mention taxpayers’ money, will continue to be wasted.

‘Prisons need to sort it out to ensure that they have an adequate system for property recording.’

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘This increase in payments to prisoners for lost and damaged property will concern many taxpayers across the country.

‘Either the authorities are failing to treat prisoners at a standard they are legally required to, or they’re giving out compensation payments too easily – both at the expense of hard-pressed taxpayers.’

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: ‘We successfully defend two thirds of all compensation cases brought against us by prisoners.

‘Where compensation is awarded, we always seek to ensure that payments are offset against outstanding debts owed to the courts and victims.

‘In addition, a programme of work is underway to prevent the causes of claims to allow us to better protect taxpayers’ money.’

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