Inspectorate reports

Commenting on the urgent notification issued today (31 May 2018) by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) over safety concerns at HMP Exeter, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“Exeter prison is a grossly overcrowded prison where most prisoners are either not convicted at all or are serving short sentences. So David Gauke’s response to this urgent notification from the Chief Inspector should start by saying how he will give effect to the new policy direction he set out last weekend. He rightly wants to replace short prison sentences with community penalties that his own research show to be more effective at cutting crime. Turning that wish into reality is the most important thing he can do to stop the rot in Exeter and many other prisons like it.”

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PRT comment: HMP Nottingham

16/05/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today’s inspection report, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This report shames us as a nation. It speaks of a fundamental failure to administer justice in a civilised way.

“But it is not an isolated example. Between 2013 and 2017, 1,364 people died in prison in England and Wales. 447 of those took their own life, and 21 were killed by a fellow prisoner. Nottingham prison is symptomatic of a disastrous political decision to slash resources from a chronically overcrowded prison system. Local failures must be rigorously exposed, as the Chief Inspector and Ombudsman rightly have done, and must be put right. But it was a political decision that broke the prison system and it will take political leadership to fix it. That must start with using prison less—it is time for ministers to step up.”

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Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on incentivising and promoting good behaviour, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This is a very important report, and especially timely given the justice secretary’s desire to use incentives to make prisons better. The core messages are simple and well known. Relationships hold the key, and those can only be built when prisoners are out of their cells and staff have the time to get to know them. Consistent and fair application of clear standards is essential. Release on temporary licence is seen by prisoners as the biggest long term incentive, but is grossly underused. 


“All of this holds true for adults as well as children, and ministers could not ask for a clearer explanation of why the overburdened adult estate is not delivering a safe and decent way of life in so many prisons. The investment all prisons need is in the time and skills to build relationships. Realistically, that has to mean an end to too many people going to prison for too long.” 

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PRT comment: HMP Altcourse

20/03/2018 10:14:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Altcourse, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"It’s heartening to see an optimistic inspection about a local prison. But the most important fact about HMP Altcourse isn’t mentioned in the report. It has a cost per place of over £67,000—more than double that of another G4S prison, Birmingham, about which inspectors have reached much less positive conclusions. With the Altcourse contract coming up for renewal in two years’ time, ministers need to decide whether to drive the price down, as they have across the public sector and in every recent competition. They should know by now what the consequences of doing so are likely to be.”


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PRT comment: HMP Liverpool

19/01/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Liverpool, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
 
“We should all be ashamed that people are treated in this way in the 21st century, whatever their crime or the charge they face. But the answer cannot be confined to a new Governor and whatever sticking plaster the ministry can afford. Liverpool is just the latest example of a prison failing both its prisoners and the public. The responsibility for the problem ultimately lies with the politicians who have inflated maximum sentences while starving the prison service of the resources it needs to cope. Those same politicians need now to take ownership of the solution, reversing sentence inflation and having the courage to end our love affair with imprisonment.

“In the short term, if we are to continue to operate Victorian prisons like Liverpool, Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville and many others, they need to be adequately resourced to deliver decent physical conditions and days spent in work and education, not behind a cell door.”

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Commenting on the decision of the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to issue an urgent notification in response to safety concerns at HMP Nottingham, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"When a prison is failing in its basic duty to keep prisoners safe, it is right that the chief inspector is making prompt use of the notification power given to him by the previous secretary of state. Everything now turns on the current secretary of state providing an adequate response and seeing it through."

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Commenting on today's thematic report on living conditions in prison by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This report describes a stain on our national reputation and reveals the dreadful truth about conditions in much of our overcrowded prison system. This is a system that “demoralises and embitters” the people for whom it purports to care, encourages drug taking in prison and undermines rehabilitation on release. Incredibly, enforced inactivity is worst for the young adults with most energy to burn.  As the Chief Inspector makes clear, reform cannot be delivered against this backdrop. A significant reduction in our unnecessary and unmerciful resort to this most severe of punishments is an essential first step to a prison system of which we can feel proud rather than ashamed.”

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Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMYOI Aylesbury published today (Thursday 17 August), Mark Day, Head of Policy and Communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Young adults are among the most vulnerable, troubled individuals in custody, and yet this report into the Justice Secretary David Lidington's local constituency prison shows that their needs are being neglected at every stage. It is particularly concerning that little progress has been made since the last inspection in 2015, and in some areas the prison has deteriorated further. The Justice Secretary this week committed to improving the accountability of prisons for responding to inspectorate recommendations. This cannot come soon enough, and must be matched by a commitment to ensure vulnerable young adults in the justice system get the distinct and tailored support they need."

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PRT comment: HMP Guys Marsh

11/04/2017 09:30:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on Guys Marsh, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
“Yet another inspection shows the damage done to our prisons by irresponsible cost cutting, and a few more staff won’t make the difference on their own. The solution must involve restoring hope for those prisoners who want to make constructive use of their time inside. That should include spending time working in the community as preparation for release. But incredibly, only one prisoner in Guys Marsh was out on temporary licence at the time of the inspection. It is time ministers were held to account for the part their government has played in reducing prisons like Guys Marsh to the state they’re in—and for the policy changes they need to approve to help them recover.”

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PRT comment: HMP Exeter

01/02/2017 00:01:00

Commenting on the publication of the HM Inspectorate of Prisons report of HMP ExeterPeter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“Yet again the government's response to another damning inspection report promises more staff as the solution. Even if that can be delivered, two-thirds of people in Exeter prison will still be sharing cells designed for one. This is not about leadership, governor autonomy or recruitment. Overcrowding undermines all aspects of prison life and it is a scandal that the government doesn't even have a target date to eliminate it—still less a plan to do so. The problem is staring us in the face—our overuse of prison—and nothing in the government's reform package currently addresses it.”

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