19 June 2018

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has today published an unannounced inspection report of HMP Woodhill. The report finds the prison has ‘deteriorated significantly’ since the previous inspection in 2015 and is ‘still not safe enough’. Since 2011 there has been 20 self-inflicted deaths at Woodhill, which is higher than any other prison in England and Wales. The Chief Inspector describes the high number of self-inflicted deaths as ‘staggering’.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “This damning inspection report is a reminder that there is no place for complacency when it comes to safety in prisons. Despite the utmost independent and legal scrutiny, the inspectors found a prison that is still not safe.

For the first time in 17 years, in 2017 there were no self-inflicted deaths in Woodhill. But this May another man was found dead, there are reports of a serious suicide attempt by a vulnerable 20-year-old, and there was a homicide.

INQUEST and the families bereaved by deaths in Woodhill hoped the spotlight on Woodhill might encourage urgent change and halt the deaths and harm. Yet here we are again. This is a failing prison in a failing system, and no amount of scrutiny has changed that. It is clear something more drastic needs to be done.”


Lee Jarman, brother of Kevin Scarlett said: “It has been five years since my brother Kevin died in HMP Woodhill. Kevin was a very kind hearted person. To us he was a loving and loyal brother, son, uncle and friend. For years he battled with mental illness and had complex mental health needs which were consistently underestimated. Kevin is deeply missed and remains always in our hearts and thoughts.

There has been a further 30 deaths in Woodhill prison since Kevin died in 2013, 18 of which were self-inflicted. It is painful for us to hear that Woodhill prison remains unsafe and people are continuing to die. How unsafe does a prison have to be until urgent action is taken?”



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay and Sarah Uncles on 020 7263 1111, [email protected] or [email protected].