An independent audit of personal injury claims made against the Prison Service in England and Wales is under way.

Figures quoted in various publications suggested that the cost to the taxpayer of handling claims against the Prison Service in England Wales reached nearly £30m last year, of which almost £10m was paid out in compensation and costs for claims involving inmates.

There have been some instances of claims by high profile prisoners, including:-

  • Michael Adebolajo, one of the men convicted of killing Lee Rigby, who claimed £20k following an incident at Belmarsh Prison during which he lost two teeth; and
  • Noel Jennings, a burglar who claimed £6k after a play fight with a fellow prisoner resulted in him banging his head.

As personal injury specialists, we are acutely aware of the challenges the legal market faces in handling claims sensitively and catering for all sections of society. Access to justice for those who have been denied liberty is a difficult question. Similar questions have arisen about prisoners voting. It is easy to see why media coverage of claims made by prisoners can make headlines some media outlets find attractive.

In Scotland, figures on claims from prisoners are not easily obtainable but it is likely that the audit, ordered by under the Secretary for Justice, Dominic Raab will be considered by the Scottish government too. Control of Scotland’s prisons is a devolved matter.