WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 01 2023
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

HMP Pentonville living conditions and overcrowding worsen

HMP Pentonville living conditions and overcrowding worsen

Photo by Andy Aitchison, www.prisonimage.org
Photo by Andy Aitchison, www.prisonimage.org

HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has released a report after an unannounced inspection in July of HMP Pentonville, one of the busiest Category B men’s prisons located in the south of London. The report states issues of overcrowding and poor living conditions which have worsened since the last inspection in April 2019.

With a population of 1,111 at the time of inspection, the report confirmed that overcrowding issues are significant. 60% of inmates live in overcrowded cells, with two people often living in a cell designated for one. The prison has surpassed its capacity and thus does not have the tools to provide for the safety and care its population requires, ranging from a lack of effective mental health services to inadequate access to purposeful activity.

Mental health appointments cannot be provided for on a ‘prompt’ basis for the 205 prisoners referred to them each month, Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor has stated. There have been seven self-inflicted deaths since the 2019 inspection and 542 reported incidents of self-harm despite the expectation for the prison environment to ‘reduce the risk of self-harm and suicide.’ Support for inmates in crisis was found to be ‘not good enough’ and only one in four felt supported.

Relationships between staff and prisoners remained ‘not sufficiently good’ with many prisoners reporting incidents of verbal abuse. The report stated that little work was being done to correct this.

The report mentions some improvements in terms of staff support and training, with some prison leaders planning a unit for neurodivergent prisoners. However Mr Taylor has commented that national and prison leaders need to work on ‘entrenched problems’.