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14 Oct 2014

Cookham Wood: Ministry of Justice policies put children in danger

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Cookham Wood prison, published today (Tuesday 14 October 2014). Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

“Reading this report, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it is now government policy to put children in danger and to create an environment where violence is festering. Cuts have pushed the prison system to breaking point. Staff shortages at Cookham Wood have led to a restricted regime, where some children are locked in their cells for 22 hours a day, staff are reliant on violence to control children and assaults and serious injuries have become the norm. The serious concerns identified by inspectors are common to most other prisons. However, this report shows that ill-thought government policies mean that the prison system cannot keep children safe. This is a new low. Howard League lawyers have been made aware of serious problems in recent months at Cookham Wood that mirror the issues raised by the Chief Inspector and we are pursuing individual cases.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. A copy of the Cookham Wood inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.
  3. The scale of prison staffing cuts across England and Wales is shown in the Howard League’s research briefing paper, Breaking point: Understaffing and overcrowding in prisons.


Jenny Chambers
Policy and Public Affairs Officer
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For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

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