A prisoner at HMP Manchester severed his own penis with a razor blade iStock

Surgeons spent 26 hours trying abortively to reattach a prisoner's penis after he sliced it almost completely off in his cell using a razor blade - and now his family want answers. Peter Smith, 55, had only been in prison for a matter of days before he was discovered in his cell soaked in blood and his penis hanging on by a thread.

Smith was remanded on firearms and drugs offences on 10 July having been arrested a couple of days earlier. While at the police station before appearing in court, he slashed at his wrist with a piece of plastic.

Yet his family claims that days later when in HMP Manchester, despite having committed an act of self-harm, he was in possession of a disposable razor, and, in a state of distress, hacked at his own penis. Surgeons could not save it.

"It is disgusting," Smith's son William told The Mirror. "The prison is not doing their care of duty. My dad should not be allowed a razor and he definitely should not be allowed on his own with a razor."

Smith is now back in the prison's hospital wing where he is slowly recovering. His son said he is filing a complaint with the prison about the incident.

The state of the prison system in England and Wales came under attack from Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors Association, in an open letter. Albutt, writing to prison governors, said she wanted to acknowledge "the unacceptable stress and anxiety" they face "on a daily basis".

The worsening behaviour of prisoners, overcrowded prisons, and cuts to resources were all highlighted as major concerns. "We know many prisons are in crisis and I deliberately use that term, because it can't be dressed up in any other way," she wrote.

"We have 40 prisons of concern, 10 of which are very concerning. Of the ones that don't fit this criteria, they are still a distance away from where we were in the Golden Years pre austerity."

It was revealed that 71 prisoners were released in error across England and Wales over the past 12 months, and it is believed many of them are still at large, although not unlawfully. The data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) also showed a rise in violent incidents inside prisons.

The MoJ also confirmed that 26,643 assaults took place between March 2016 and March 2017, a 20% increase compared to the year before. A large portion of these assaults were aimed at prison staff – 7,159 – which equates to around 20 per day.

Escapes from prisons, although a rare occurrence, took place on 15 occasions according to the data, an increase of two. The total number of prisoners who had self-inflicted deaths was 97, a decrease of 10. However, a total of 71 people were released by mistake, the highest number since records began ten years ago.

A "tornado" squad armed with shields and batons recently descended on HMP The Mount prison in Hertfordshire to quell riots that had broken out amid reports that two wings were "out of control". Sky News reported that the two wings affected housed 227 prisoners and that staff shortages as well as a "restricted regime" may have been behind the unrest on 31 July.