VIDEO: “Lock down” in British prisons and spending too much time in cells

Howard League’s Robert Preece talks about prisoners locked in cells 23 hours a day 


“Lock down” sounds like some bad American reality television show, but for many British prisoners, the term means only one thing: long hours spent locked in cells

As Robert Preece of The Howard League for Penal Reform says: “Prisoners are finding themselves locked up for 23 hours a day inside cells. We would normally expect prisoners to spend somewhere in the region of 10 hours a day outside their cell engaged in activities, education, training and work.”

Mr Preece says that smaller budgets, fewer guards and overcrowded prisons have all contributed to prisoners spending more time locked in cells. This affects any rehabilitation they may be undergoing.

“We’ve seen prisons having to deal with the reduction in officer numbers to the tune of about 40 percent over four years,” said Mr Preece. “This has come at a time when the number of prisoners has gone up.”

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons drew attention to the problem in its annual report in October 2014.

Since then the situation has been documented at prisons in Elmley in Kent, at Nottingham Prison and at Feltham Young Offenders Institute.

Mr Preece called on the new Justice Secretary Michael Gove to hire more prison staff, so that officers would have time to deal with prisoners and prisoners would have more time to work and study.

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