Prisoners are handed £41m in compensation in just three years


Prisoners are handed £41m in compensation in just three years for issues including lost property as well as in-custody injury or death

  • EXCLUSIVE: Prisoners have been paid £40.8million in taxpayer funds since 2017
  • Some £11million was spent compensating the UK’s criminals in the year 2019/20
  • It comes after a record high year for prison violence in 2018/19 – with 317 deaths 

Prisoners have been paid £40.8million in compensation in just three years for issues including lost property, in-custody injury and even death, MailOnline can reveal.

The taxpayer funds peaked at £19.6million in the financial year 2018/19 alone during a record year for violence in jails.

Some £10.9million was spent compensating criminals in the latest financial year 2019/20, including £259,515 on lost and damaged property.

It comes amid a record high for prison violence in England and Wales, with 34,223 assaults in 2018 – up 16 per cent on 2017 – and 317 deaths in custody between March 2018 and 2019.

The amount paid to prisoners out of taxpayer funds peaked at £19.6million in the financial year 2018/19 alone – a record year for violence in prisons. File photo of HMP Pentonville in London 

Figures obtainted by MailOnline through a Freedom of Information request found £7million was paid to compensate injured prisoners in 2019/20.

Some £2.4 million was paid after prisoners died in custody in 2019/20 – half a million more than what was paid for deaths the year before and three quarters of a million more than the financial year 2017/18.

A £349,852 pay-out could have been avoided if prison officers released inmates on time in 2019/20 – a record high with the amount paid for extended detention at £220,000 and £270,000 respectively in the years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Two thirds of claims brought by prisoners are successfully defended and we will only settle where it is in the best interest of the taxpayer. 

Amount paid in compensation to prisoners 
Description  2017/18   2018/19 2019/20 
Injury  £5,577,950  £13,198,567  £7,112,146 
Death in custody  £1,674,967  £1,833,267  £2,431,507 
Extended detention  £227,069  £270,250  £349,852 
Damaged property  £34,819  £134,511  £34,920 
Lost property  £185,235  £219,200  £224,595 
Other £2,585,691  £4,014,827  £750,858
Totals  £10,285,731  £19,670,621  £10,903,879 
Footage from a riot at HMP Winchester in August

Inmates crudely imitated guards by wearing their uniform and brandishing batons

Footage from a riot at HMP Winchester in August 2019 – one of the numerous instances of violent unrest in British jails  

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

In August 2019, a riot erupted at HMP Winchester after inmates forced the sole guard to flee from their block before using the rare moment of freedom to smash furniture and run around in prison officers’ uniforms.

Footage from the same jail filmed by a TV camera crew showed two nurses cowering just yards from brawling inmates while a bare-chested prisoner attacked prison officers in riot gear with a wooden stick and others hurled bins across a landing. 

In 2018, attacks on prison officers reached almost 30 a day – equivalent to at least one an hour – with unions blaming a lack of staff for the increasing violence.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk