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Prisons have experienced large spending cuts and cuts to staff numbers since 2009/10. Despite promising signs in the early years of this period that this was manageable, in 2013/14 prison safety started to deteriorate sharply. Violence rates have risen, and prisoners appear to have less access to learning and development activities.

Spending has risen recently following an injection of extra cash at the 2016 Autumn Statement to tackle the decline in prison safety. The rate of deaths in prison has subsequently fallen, but the data does not yet show any discernible improvements in overall violence levels.