THE region’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed Justice Secretary David Gauke’s plans to tackle crime within prisons.

John Campion welcomed Mr Gauke’s ‘practical’ approach which includes recategorising prisoners to tougher jails if they have a high criminality risk.

Mr Campion said: “I am pleased to see that the Justice Secretary is passionate about cracking down on these criminal networks, which have only got larger and more complex through the technology and bold methods these individuals are choosing to use.

“It is right that those going into prisons for criminal activity, and at risk of getting involved in further criminal activity, are cut off from the outside world and their networks.

“These organised gangs are not only causing harm in the prisons but in our communities too, and I will continue to work with the Government to ensure this harm is reduced.”

In his first major speech since being appointed Justice Secretary in January, Mr Gauke announced the government is spending £14 million on tackling organised criminal gangs in prisons, which includes setting up a serious organised crime unit within the Prison Service.

Currently, inmates are categorised by their sentence length which means they could spend their time in a facilities ranging from a category-A high-security prison to a category-D open jail.

Offenders who pose a risk of crime in jail could be moved to more restrictive prisons.

Many prisoners are held in lower-security prisons because they are serving short sentences and are not assessed as likely to escape.

New proposals would see the risk of continuing criminality taken into account.

The National Crime Agency says one in 13 inmates have organised crime links and estimates some of these 6,500 offenders continue to be involved in crime behind bars, including the supply of banned items such as phones as well as drugs and weapons.

It is hoped these proposals will put an end to potential riots like the one experienced at Long Lartin prison near Evesham in October 2017.

It took riot police several hours to restore order as up to 80 prisoners – using pool balls as weapons – battled on one wing of the 622-capacity category-A jail.