Jails in England and Wales are in the grip of soaring rates of drug use, squalor and violence resulting in some of the ‘worst prison conditions ever seen’, damning report finds
- Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke published damning assessment of jails
- Found many rat infested and in the grip of a drug dependence and violence
- Mr Clarke said the appalling conditions have ‘no place in the 21st Century’
Soaring rates of drug use, violence and squalor has resulted in some of the worst conditions in prison in England and wales ever seen, a damning report today warns.
Jails are rate infested, over-crowded and ‘fundamentally unsafe’, an investigation by the Chief inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke has found.
The appalling conditions have ‘no place in the 21st Century’ but are so widespread that prison staff and inmates have become ‘inured’ to them, the report found.
Prisoners are forced to live in squalid conditions and are locked up for nearly 24 hours a day, the report found.
Many have become hooked on drugs and driven to self harm, the scathing assessment found, while many jails failed to act on repeated warnings to improve.
Mr Clarke blamed the prisons crisis on the collapse in the number of staff and called for urgent action to tackle it.
He said: ‘Violence, drugs, suicide and self‑harm, squalor and poor access to education are again prominent themes.’
Soaring rates of drug use, violence and squalor has resulted in some of the worst conditions in prison in England and wales ever seen, a damning report today warns (pictured, riot police heading into Winson Prison in December 2016)
Jails are rate infested, over-crowded and ‘fundamentally unsafe’, an investigation by the Chief inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke (pictured giving evidence to MPs) has found.
HMP Nottingham (pictured) was found to be ‘fundamentally unsafe’ in the scathing report
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Publishing his annual report for 2017/18, Mr Clarke said: ‘I have seen instances where both staff and prisoners alike seem to have become inured to conditions that should not be accepted in 21st century Britain.
‘Terrible conditions that people seem to have lost the ability to recognise as not being good but also as not being bad. It’s just become the normal.’
What are the key findings of the damning prisons report
Here are some of the key findings of the damning annual inspection into prisons in England and Wales:
Warned of ‘shockingly’ high numbers of inmates hoked on drugs.
Surveys showed 13 per cent of adult men reported developing a problem with illicit drugs after they arrived.
Safety declined in 14 jails inspected in 2017/18 – far higher than the nine that showed improvement
Around half of prisons have too few places for the number of prisoners crammed in.
He said that over the year HM Inspectorate of Prisons documented some of its most disturbing ever findings.
Inspectors at the rat-infested HMP Liverpool could not recall encountering worse conditions, while HMP Nottingham was found to be ‘fundamentally unsafe’ and the iconic Wormwood Scrubs had seemingly ‘intractable’ problems.
Mr Clarke criticised the ‘disappointing failure’ of many establishments to act on his office’s previous recommendations.
The chief inspector said it was ‘noticeable’ that a huge increase in violence across the prison estate had taken place when staff plummeted.
He welcomed efforts to boost staffing levels and the introduction of the ‘urgent notification’ process, which allows the inspectorate to demand immediate action from the government to address major failings at individual jails.
But Mr Clarke said there was still a ‘huge amount’ to do to reverse the decline in treatment and conditions in some facilities.
His review also flagged up the ‘shockingly’ high numbers of inmates who acquire a drug habit behind bars, noting that surveys showed 13 per cent of adult men reported developing a problem with illicit drugs after they arrived
Members of the ‘Tornado Team’ at HMP Birmingham covered in paint after a disturbance at the prison in December 29016
and it questioned why it had taken so long to adopt new technology to tackle smuggling of contraband such as drugs and mobile phones
It found safety declined in 14 jails inspected in 2017/18, while nine showed improvement
And it detailed sometimes ‘dramatic’ increases in violence behind bars, including rises in assaults on staff
It said around half of prisons had too few places for the population
Prisons singled out for damning criticism in the report:
Here are the prisons singled out for heavy criticism in the annual review:
The iconic jail in West London suffered from ‘appalling living conditions, violence, poor safety and seemingly intractable problems over repeated inspections’.
The report found that inmates were s suffering from an ‘almost complete lack of rehabilitative or resettlement activity’.
Inspectors at the rat-infested HMP Liverpool could not remember worse conditions
In one alarming episode, inspectors found that an officer on night duty who did not know that he had keys to open cells in case of emergency
The prison has high rates of self harm and suicide and failed to at on many of the recommendations given by prions inspectors
The tragic toll of self-inflicted deaths at led Mr Clarke to describe the jail as ‘fundamentally unsafe.
Mr Clarke said: ‘I realise that in recent years many prisons, short of staff and investment, have struggled to maintain even basic standards of safety and decency.
‘Some prisons, in very difficult circumstances, have made valiant efforts to improve.
‘Others, sadly, have failed to tackle the basic problems of violence, drugs and disgraceful living conditions that have beset so many jails in recent years.’
Richard Burgon, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, said: ‘The crisis in our prisons has now become an emergency – as Labour has long warned it would.
‘The Tories’ ideological decision to axe thousands of prison officers and slash prison budgets is to blame for this unprecedented failure.
‘The Government must now take responsibility for some of the worst prison conditions that Inspectors have ever seen.
‘Instead of tinkering around at the edges, the Government needs to outline an emergency plan and new funds to make our prisons safe and humane.’
Justice minister Rory Stewart said the Government had listened carefully to Mr Clarke’s recommendations.
‘That is why we are putting £16 million extra into cleanliness and decency and £7 million for in-cell telephony,’ he said.
‘We are also investing £14 million into tackling organised crime, and installing new technology like body scanners which will help to make our prisons drugs-free.
‘Meanwhile, our new education and employment strategy will ensure more prisoners learn a trade while inside and find a job on release.
‘Underpinning all of this are over 3,000 extra prison officers we’ve recruited in the last 18 months to help keep prisoners safe and turn their lives around.’
Michael Spurr, chief executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said: ‘Many prisons have had a challenging 12 months and whilst the Inspectorate has recognised particularly acute problems in a number of prisons I am pleased that they have also recognised the progress and good outcomes in others.’
Justice minister Rory Stewart said the Government had listened carefully to Mr Clarke’s recommendations (file pic)
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