HMP Bedford condemned in latest Chief Inspector of Prisons reportPosted: September 29, 2016
Easier for prisoners to get drugs than clothes and bed sheets in Bedford Prison
HMP Bedford condemned for rising rates of suicide, violence and “easy access” to illegal drugs in latest Chief Inspector of Prisons report
- Easy access to illegal drugs, especially psychoactive substances like “spice”
- Increased use of force against inmates
- Rise in suicides and self-harm
- Crowded and sometimes “unsafe” living conditions
The report condemns the “clear availability” of drugs and concludes that there is no effective drug supply reduction strategy in place.
The number of prisoners reporting that it was easy to get drugs has almost doubled since the last inspection in February 2014 and the number reporting that they have developed a drug problem while in HM Bedford has risen by 10 per cent.
Inspectors add: “The stark reality is that prisoners told us it was easier to get illegal drugs in the prison than it is to get clothes or sheets.”
Alarmingly, the number of self-harm incidents has increased dramatically since the previous inspection, almost doubling from 67 to 121 in the previous six months. And the number of individual prisoners self-harming has risen from 56 to 96 in the same time.
Similarly, the number of incidents involving the use of force has risen considerably, with 104 incidents in the previous six months. Inspectors conclude that the oversight of the use of force is poor.
And while young inmates only account for four per cent of the total prison population, they accounted for almost 20 per cent of incidents in which force was used.
Inspectors add that “neither this nor the perceptions of Muslim prisoners, who (are) also over represented in the use of force, ha(s) been investigated.”
As well as increased violence, inspectors found that many prisoners live in old, overcrowded and cramped conditions, adding: “Damaged furniture, graffiti, shortages of clothing, damp clothing hanging on homemade washing lines in cells, and dirty, unscreened showers do not offer basic levels of decency”.
The amount of time prisoners are allowed out of their cells has also reduced. Inspectors note that a restricted regime has been introduced owing to staffing shortage and this has resulted in some inmates being unlocked for as little as one hour a day.
Yet the majority of prisoners were positive about the quality of food and over 70 per cent of inmates reported that staff at HMP Bedford treated them with respect.
Inspectors concluded: “The clearest lesson to be drawn from this disappointing inspection is that if inspection recommendations are ignored to the extent that they have been at HMP Bedford, it is the prisoners who will suffer.”