Violence on the increase at Danish prisons

November 21st, 2014

This article is more than 9 years old.

Gang members responsible for bulk of the attacks, according to prison officers

The rate of violent attacks in closed prisons is on the rise, Politiken reports. Last year, 129 episodes of violence and threats were recorded. In the first nine months of this year, there were already 134 such episodes.

Jesper Dalbye, the prison officers’ union representative at Vridsløselille prison in Albertslund, told the newspaper the number of violent incidents has risen by 100 percent a year in the past two years. This year there have been 52 episodes at that prison alone. “They’re very violent attacks,” he said.

Attacked for wrong affiliations
“People are attacked with snooker cues and home-made knives, get mauled in their cells or get beaten up for going into the kitchen to make food, because they have the wrong affiliation. We need to split the groups up or it can end up with them killing each other.”

Dalbye explained that gang members were responsible for a lot of the violence. “They set the agenda,” he said. “And if other inmates aren’t with them 100 percent, they’re seen as being against them. You can’t be neutral. The high number of inmates who have gang affiliations can’t serve time normally.”

Kim Østerbye, the chairman of the prison officers’ union Fængselsforbundet, also sees the gang element as being critical to the rise of violence in the country’s prisons. “It may have more or less calmed down with the gangs on the streets,” he said

“But many of the most hardcore gang members are now in prison and are trying to continue their gang activities inside the prison walls.”

The prison and probation service Kriminalforsorgen is aware of the problem and it trying to tackle it by spreading gang members out among the country’s prisons, the organisation’s head of security told Politiken. “We need to get it under control because under no circumstances can we accept that the rate of violence increases,” he said.


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