WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 14 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Inspectorate finds HMP Bristol is one of the ‘most unsafe in the country’

Inspectorate finds HMP Bristol is one of the ‘most unsafe in the country’

A report by the HM Chief Inspector of P risons found that HMP Bristol ‘remained one of the most unsafe prisons in the country’, with high levels of violence and even deaths.

This violence included serious assaults on both staff and prisoners. It was found there had been eight self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection, with six of these deaths occurring in recent months. One man had also recently been charged with murdering his cellmate.

At the time of the inspection, a third of the prisoners presented with substance misuse issues and drugs were found to be ‘readily available.’ A fifth of prisoners were also in need of mental health assessments. In addition, most prisoners were locked up for 22 hours of the day in overcrowded conditions with over half of the prisoners sharing a cell designed for one.

The report concluded that HMP Bristol ‘continued to be a prison with chronic and seemingly intractable problems.’

The prison’s two previous inspections in 2019 and July 2023, triggered Urgent Notifications, requiring the government to respond within 28 days. The inspector described it as an ‘enormous disappointment’ that things had not improved.

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds recognised that the inspection findings were “unacceptable” and developed an action plan to ‘overhaul the prison’s safety strategy,’ bringing in extra prison and healthcare staff and carrying out urgent refurbishments. He expressed confidence that these actions would ‘create the right conditions at HMP Bristol so officers can concentrate on rehabilitating prisoners to cut crime and better protect the public.’

The Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘This alarming report on Bristol prison encapsulates perfectly the problems caused when more and more people are thrown into overcrowded jails with insufficient staff to keep them safe and help them to move on from crime.’ He continued that there had been ‘red flags’ at Bristol following the inspection four years ago and to find that nothing has changed was ‘a damning indictment on a system that has been asked to do too much, with too little, for too long.’

Andrew Neilson, their Director of Campaigns, called for ‘sensible measures to reduce prison overcrowding’ which includes reforming the use of short sentences that ‘have been shown to be ineffective by the government’s own research.’

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