The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has issued a serious warning to the UK government over the current conditions within prisons in England.

Publishing its findings following its recent visit, the committee reported that violence is "spiralling out of control"; that incidents are being under reported; and that the government's reform plans were under threat unless "determined action" was taken to significantly reduce the current prison population.

The committee also found a considerable number of adults spending up to 22 hours a day locked up in their cells. At one young offenders institution, some children could spend up to 23 and a half hours a day locked up alone in their cells—something which amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, according to the committee.

Commenting on the committee's findings, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"This is a devastating international indictment of how low our prison system has sunk. This independent, expert committee exists to prevent mistreatment in prisons across Europe. It should be a matter of national shame that they found that every prison they visited in this country was unsafe for both staff and prisoners. They specifically found that some children were being held in conditions that were inhuman and degrading.

"The committee is equally clear that endemic overcrowding lies behind this appalling failure. Its report makes plain that the government's stated commitment to reform will come to nothing without determined and prompt action to reduce prison numbers.
"There have been times in our history when the way we ran our prisons was held up as a model for other countries to follow. Now we are falling short of the most basic international expectations. Whatever the outcome of the general election, a new government needs to restore some pride in the way we treat the people we choose to punish."

Click here to read the full report.