Aylesbury prison has been repeatedly criticised for its failings in recent years. An unannounced inspection took place from November to December 2022 and found there to be no improvement. The recently published report finds that in three of the four healthy prison tests (safety, respect, rehabilitation and release planning) the provision of purposeful activity in fact declined – going from ‘not sufficiently good’ to ‘poor’. Inspectors concluded that prisoners are not being treated well enough and their needs are not being met.
The lack of treatment presented an unacceptable risk to the health of prisoners over the age of 40. Additionally, 40% of prisoners were unemployed and those who did not have any activities could spend 23 hours a day locked up.
Andrew Neilson at the Howard League for Penal Reform responds to the inactivity of prisoners and says: ‘investing in employment, education, and healthcare, and reducing the prison population would do far more to prevent crime than locking people in cells all day with nothing to do’.
The inspection report also highlighted that the prison was short of about 50 officers and that this, in turn, had consequences on the daily regime of prisoners. The Howard League’s response highlights that an understaffed prison, which has failed repeatedly to help young people to move on from crime, is being placed under greater pressure because the government is resorting to panic measures. There are concerns that there is little to no support to prepare people for safe release.
Neilson comments, ‘This report on Aylesbury reveals why growing the prison population with little thought for the consequences creates more problems for everyone’.