4 December 2018

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has today published its report on HMP Birmingham following an unannounced inspection carried out between the 30 July and 9 August 2018.

The Inspectorate found that the prison was ‘fundamentally unsafe’ and in an ‘appalling state’. The Chief Inspector, Peter Clarke, invoked the Urgent Notification process, which brought serious concerns about the prison directly to the attention of the Secretary of State.

Natasha Thompson, caseworker at INQUEST said: “The Ministry of Justice has been repeatedly alerted about systemic failings by inspection and monitoring bodies. That inspectors are still finding a dangerous and deteriorating prison is reprehensible. This points to INQUEST’s ongoing concern about abject failures in the mechanisms of accountability and the abrogation of responsibility at all levels of the prison service and government in their duty of care.

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 and Sarah Uncles on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected] [email protected]

INQUEST is working alongside the families of five people who have died in Birmingham prison in 2018.

  • Since the previous inspection in February 2017, there has been a further 14 deaths at HMP Birmingham. Of these, five are awaiting classification, 7 were non self-inflicted and 2 self-inflicted. This includes a death in September 2018, after the recent inspection, which is currently awaiting classification.
  • The inspection report highlights:
    • 71% of prisoners said they felt unsafe.
    • Only 12 of 70 previous recommendations made at the inspection in February 2017 had been achieved.
    • Only three of the 15 recommendations made in the area of safety had been achieved.
    • A lack of care for prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm.
    • Some prisoners were self-isolating because of fears for their safety, and they were left entirely unsupported.
    • The Inspectorate commented “the treatment of prisoners and the conditions in which they were held at Birmingham were among the worst we have seen in recent years”.
  • On 16 August 2018, the Inspectorate invoked the Urgent Notification process following the inspection at HMP Birmingham. The damning inspection led the Ministry of Justice to take immediate control of HMP Birmingham from its contractor G4S.
  • So far in 2018, HMP Durham has had the highest number of deaths (10). There have been eight deaths in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Hull and Wymott prisons.
  • The recent HM Inspectorate Prisons annual report highlighted the ‘totally inadequate’ response of prisons to respond to inspection recommendations, which are intended to ‘help save lives’.