Sure to irk British taxpayers is news that personal injury pay-outs to those serving time at her Majesty’s pleasure has notched up a figure purported to be close to £10 million, an alarming fact which has prompted MPs to launch an audit to determine precisely why such an amount has been settled with inmates pursuing compensation claims, whilst at the same time confronting the issue of associated legal costs which also appear to have spiralled out of control.
According to reliable sources, a whopping (and record-setting) £28.8 million was the total bill footed by the Ministry of Justice in 2015 as a direct result of prisoners having successfully won personal injury cases in the aftermath of either sustaining personal injuries, being the subject of miscarriages of justice or having their human rights infringed whilst serving time in UK prisons.
This vast sum is said to cover the whole spectrum of claim handling during the past 12 months, with £9.3 million the actual receipt picked up by the government department for compensation, with the remainder taken care of by legal costs.
By contrast, in 2014 the entire bill was in the region of £21.1 million, with £7.4 million of that pot being paid out to wronged inmates.
What makes matters worse is that this news comes on the back of a number of high profile prisoners seeking damages after lodging compensation claims for the alleged treatment they received at the hands of prison staff, with arguably one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby the most notorious.
In December 2015 it emerged that Michael Adebolajo had instigated a personal injury claim after suffering the loss of two front teeth in a supposed incident while in Belmarsh Prison. Adebolajo’s case isn’t an isolated one though, as an increasing number of inmates have sought financial settlement in relation to allegations of prison staff mishandling prisoners in jails located across the country, which has significantly contributed to this shock new figure being widely reported.
Specialist legal company BLM has been hired by the Ministry of Justice to investigate exactly why the personal injury claims situation is such in UK prisons, and who have been tasked with reporting their initial findings later this year.
Dominic Raab, the Justice Minister, explained why it’s imperative to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. He said; “Of course the Prison Service must be accountable, but taxpayers will be staggered to learn that the costs of litigation against it reached £29 million last year.”
The Minister went on to underline just why the time is right to launch such an enquiry by adding; “We have ordered an independent audit to make sure we are not being taken for a ride. We want public money focused on protecting the public and reforming offenders - not fuelling the compensation culture.”
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