Inmate given 57p in compensation after his magazine was damaged by prison

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A prisoner was reimbursed 57 pence as compensation after a magazine they owned was lost or damaged by prison staff, as new figures reveal that over £1 million has been given out to convicts for lost property over the past five years.Over 13,000 taxpayer-funded payouts have been made since 2013, with claims including damage to tracksuit bottoms (£10), a T-shirt (£3) and a stereo (£150).Other reimbursements include lost or damaged tobacco (£20.80), a DVD player (£68.99), and a watch (£10).The statistics, obtained by the Press Association via a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice, show £1,075,594.80 has been paid out since 2013, while the number and value of payments went up in the last financial year despite a watchdog highlighting the problem.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.Last  year, it was found that in the four years between 2013 and 2017, lost property claims totaled £833,541.02.At the time, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen called on the prison service to “get a grip” on the way property is managed.Now, it has been found that the following year, 2,666 awards were made in relation to prisoners’ belongings in 2017-18, at a total cost of £220,053.78.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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