Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 15:37 UK

Jail hunger strike over smoke ban

Victoria Prison
The smoking ban was introduced at the prison in March

Prison inmates at Victoria Prison Isle of Man have gone on hunger strike over a smoking ban.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) said "a very small number" of prisoners at the Douglas jail refused to eat their meals over the last 24 hours.

The ban was introduced in March in line with the island's smoke-free laws.

Prisoners are now prevented from smoking at all as the DHA said allowing smoking just in the external yards would be difficult to police.

The DHA said inmates would have to be issued with tobacco going out, then searched on their return to prevent tobacco being smuggled inside.

Prison management also claimed that medical advice showed allowing prisoners to smoke for one hour a day would be worse than a total ban, as it would severely hamper their withdrawal from tobacco use.

The DHA said before it implemented the ban it checked to ensure it complied with the Island's Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights.

Prisoners who have refused food are able buy food from the prison shop.

Victoria Prison in Douglas is due to close next month and inmates will be moved to a new purpose built 41m prison in Jurby on the other side of the island.

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30 Apr 08 |  Isle of Man
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29 Apr 08 |  Isle of Man
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