Shock figures reveal state of UK’s brutal prisons

Sun Feb 18, 2018 07:28AM
Wandsworth Prison, London, England (File photo).

A new investigation has found that two-thirds of prisons in the UK are providing their inmates with inadequate conditions or unacceptable treatment, according to a report.

Standards in nearly 70 percent of prisons are unsatisfactory in at least one respect, with two in five jails deemed to be unacceptably unsafe, found an Observer analysis of hundreds of inspections covering 118 institutions, according to The Guardian.

The investigation examined areas from standards for safety to respect for prisoners to access to purposeful activities as well as help when they leave the institution.

Eighty out of 118 adult jails in England and Wales were providing insufficient or poor standards in at least one area, with only 7 percent of prisons receiving a “good” rating in all four categories.

While poor or insufficient safety was a major problem in 44 percent of the prisons, 47 percent offered inmates insufficient or poor access to meaningful activities and the prisoners were left locked in cells for very long periods.

With regard to assistance to prisoners after they leave, two in five prisons were providing inadequate help.

Since the last inspection, conditions in prisons have deteriorated in 41 percent of the prisons, with the worst-performing prisons and overcrowded being Bristol, Guys Marsh, Liverpool, Nottingham and Wormwood Scrubs.

The state of some of these detention centers is “deeply disturbing,” Rory Stewart, the prisons minister, wrote for the Observer.

Stewart admits that prisons are rife with psychoactive drugs, saying he saw “increasing levels of violence committed by prisoners, and horrifying rates of self-harm.”

Also, Lord Woolf, the former lord chief justice, said that there was a possibility of a riot like the one that happened in the Strangeways in 1990, in which two people died.

“[If] you ask me whether we have gone back to where we were pre-Strangeways, I think we are there in that sort of territory,” said Woolf.

“It is not confined to one of our prison establishments. It is across the board. There has been a complete breakdown in recognising the fact that serious action is needed, and recognizing that the only way to do it is to have a long-term plan, with somebody in charge of it throughout the term.”

According to the latest official figures, the rate of self-harm and assaults in prisons is also a record high and critics blame cramped cells, a shortage of staff and inmates being locked up in poor conditions for a long time.


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