The number of assaults in prisons in England and Wales has risen to a record high, official figures have shown.
There were 26,643 assaults in the year to March 2017, a 20% rise from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Of these, a record 7,159 were attacks on staff – equivalent to 20 every day.
Justice Secretary David Lidington said frontline staff were critical to achieving safety and the number of prison officers recruited was rising.
The annual data also revealed that 71 prisoners were released in error in 2016-17 – the highest number in any year since current records began in 2006-7.
The figures show there were 97 self-inflicted deaths in the year to June 2017 – down 10 on the year before.
Overall, the performance of prisons appears to have worsened, with the MoJ naming 10 in England and Wales as causing “serious concern”.
The 10 jails are Bedford, Birmingham, Bristol, Brixton, Guys Marsh, Hindley, Liverpool, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs.
Last year six prisons were assessed as giving serious concern.
There were 15 escapes from prisons in 2016-17 – up by two on the year before – and the number of prisoners released by mistake rose by seven to 71.
There was a 65% increase in “temporary release failures” – to 267 – where an inmate who has been let out for the day or a weekend fails to adhere to the conditions of their release, such as returning on time or not going to certain areas.
The justice secretary said: “These figures reinforce how crucial it is that we make progress as quickly as possible.
“I have seen first-hand the challenges our dedicated and hardworking prison staff face.
“Boosting the frontline is critical to achieving safety and the number of prison officers we are recruiting is rising, with the number of new prison officers joining the service at its highest level since 2010. “
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