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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Wandsworth Prison deemed “inhumane” in damning report

“Inhumane” conditions in HMP Wandsworth reflect the failures of the prison system as a whole, according to an annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).

The IMB report covering June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023 stated there had been “no real progress in resolving problems caused by years of underinvestment in the fabric, facilities and staff at the prison”.

There were serious concerns of overcrowding with most men sharing cells designed for single occupancy and repeatedly having no hot water over the winter months.

In wings G and H there were only 11 shower stalls available for 265 men.

During the year the shortage of available staff seriously undermined the ability of the prison to function effectively, with the percentage of available officers rarely reached above 50%.

The prison was deemed “unsafe” with violence levels continuing to rise and assaults rising by more than 20% in all areas.

Access to contraband

The shocking report also found that prisoners had easy access to contraband, with 1,900 litres of illicitly brewed alcohol, over the year.

And more than 300 mobile phones were found at Wandsworth, with drones used to send goods over the prison walls.

Shortcomings of the prison system

IMB chair, Tim Aikens, said: “Recent events at Wandsworth have demonstrated the shortcomings of the prison system that the IMB has been highlighting repeatedly for many years. 

“Prisoners are being failed and most have a severely reduced chance of rehabilitation upon release.  We are told there is significant investment in the prison system, but we see little evidence of this in Wandsworth.”

Decisive action

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We have already taken decisive action to address the serious issues raised in this report, with frontline staffing having increased by almost a quarter in the last six years and investing millions into security upgrades at the prison.

“This includes spending more than £8m to roll out new CCTV and putting in place tougher gate security, with dogs working alongside specialist staff. We have also installed new windows, repaired roofs and refurbished healthcare facilities to significantly improve conditions.”

The Ministry of Justice, in its Annual Performance Ratings for 2022/23 covering 119 establishments, rated HMP Wandsworth as one of only nine establishments whose performance was of serious concern.

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