A lesson from Britain: we should be getting our jails ready for an influx of pensioner prisoners

Forget about the sex stuff...he should be banged up for playing a bloody accordion.

Forget about the sex stuff…he should be banged up for playing a bloody accordion.

Where Britain goes we go…

Or we did once.

Probably that’s no longer true. Nowadays we are just as likely to go where the Yanks demand we go or take our cue from the Treaty of Waitangi and go where iwi want us to go.

But we can learn from the country of Alf’s forefathers nevertheless and the Queen is still our Head of State.

Whether we should learn from changes in Britain’s prison muster is a moot point but it can do no harm, surely, to start kitting out our jails by providing wheelchair ramps. zimmer frames and what-have-you for a more elderly population of inmates.

Alf makes this observation on learning from the Daily Mail that British prison governors are having to upgrade jail cells to cope with a boom in pensioner prisoners.

This follows a decade-long crack-down in historic sex abusers.

The number of prisoners aged over 60 has soared by 130 per cent in the last ten years as OAP abusers like BBC star Stuart Hall and publicist Max Clifford are finally convicted of their crimes.

This is far more than other age groups. Overall, prison numbers have gone up by 17 per cent. People aged 60 and over are the fastest growing age group in prisons – largely fuelled by a dramatic rise in historic sex abuse cases.

Clifford, 71, was banged up for eight years last month and Hall is serving 30 months behind bars – a much-too-lenient sentence, surely – for a string of attacks on 13 girls, one as young as nine, between 1967 and 1985

But Britain’s prisons are not set up to cope with OAP prisoners – many of whom deteriorate dramatically after being locked up.

A Prison Service spokesman told MailOnline that they were now working to adapt Britain’s jails to help the pensioner offenders.

‘Prisons reflect society and, as such, the numbers of older prisoners have increased gradually,’ the spokesman said.

‘Governors are working to ensure suitable facilities are provided and healthcare needs are met, as well as working with charities such as Age UK and Recoop who focus on resettlement.’

According to a the Mail story (Alf will be bringing it to the attention of Crusher Collins) some older prisoners’ physical health deteriorates by as much as 10 years compared to those on the outside.

This is forcing prison governors to fit hand rails and specially adapted showers.

But hey. There’s strength in numbers and Bure Prison in Norfolk now holds so many over-50s that there are 26 teams in its bowls club.Officers at Bure Prison in Norfolk now holds so many over-50s that there are 26 teams in its bowls club.

Staff are also to be given training on how to spot signs of dementia among prisoners, while St John Ambulance was brought in to train 20 inmates how to push OAP inmates in their wheelchairs.

A portable wheelchair ramp is available in the jail – one of five in England and Wales that holds only sex offenders.

At least three jails — in the Isle of Wight, Norwich and Whatton in Nottinghamshire — have specific centres for terminally ill inmates.

By the end of March there were 10,749 prisoners aged 50 and over in England and Wales including 3,577 aged 60 and over. This group makes up 12 per cent of the total prison population.

Four out of 10 of the men aged over 50 have been convicted of sex offences, official figures show.

There are now more than 11,000 sex offenders in prison – more than double the number locked up in 2002.

But there are namby-pamby prison reformers in Britain as well as this country and Frances Cook, of the Howard League for penal reform, says banging granddad up in prison for crimes he did 40 years ago is not sensible.

She said: ‘It is much more healing for the victim for granddad to admit what he did than for granddad to go off to prison for three years’. The prison reform campaigner said justice system was ‘Victorian’.

Alf is fascinated to see what comes of the Rolf Harris case.

He was allowed to take his painting gear into Buckingham Palace - but what about prison?

He was allowed to take his painting gear into Buckingham Palace – but what about prison?

If the outcome happens to be a guilty verdict and a jail sentence, will Rolf have access to a didgeridoo, for example, and to his easel and paint pots?

But let’s be clear: Alf has formed no opinion on the rights and wrongs of what is being unveiled in the court where Harris is on trial.

He does have an opinion on accordions and accordion players.

The noise from these things is highly offensive and Harris should have been banged up the first time he played one outside the privacy of his own home.


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