11 July 2018

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has today published their annual report on the conditions and treatment of people held in prisons across England and Wales. It outlines the ‘disgraceful and squalid’ living conditions across much of the prison estate, and ‘repeated patterns of failure’ behind deaths in custody. The report follows a year of ‘some of the most troubling inspection reports’ ever produced.  

The inspectorate highlights the ‘totally inadequate’ response of prisons to respond to inspection recommendations, which are intended to ‘help save lives’. This is despite a ‘clear correlation’ between achievement of recommendations and performance of prisons.

Of the safety recommendations on adult male prisons, 48% were not achieved and 15% were only partially achieved. The Chief Inspector also commented that a third of prisons had not properly implemented recommendations from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman following deaths in custody.

In more than 90% of their reports on men’s prisons, the inspectorate were critical of one or more key indicators used to assess the effectiveness of suicide and self-harm prevention measures.

The annual report also raises the following safety concerns:

  • Lack of support in the early days of custody;
  • Weaknesses in the management of prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm (through ACCT processes);
  • Issues with responding to cell call bells;
  • Staff not properly trained to respond in the event of an incident.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: The inspectorate continues to find deplorable failures in the state's duty of care in prisons across England and Wales. In over 90% of men’s prisons the inspectorate found issues with self-harm and suicide management, reflective of the continually high death toll.

These dangers are compounded by the systemic failure to act on recommendations made by coroners, inspections and monitoring bodies to prevent future deaths. If such complacency and neglect was found in any other setting, the institution would be shut down.

Until there is a dramatic reduction in the use of prison, a redirection of resources into community alternatives, as well as a clear and enforceable system of accountability which protects prisoners, then needless deaths and harms will continue.”


For further information please contact Lucy McKay or on 020 7263 1111 or here.