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19 Apr 2017

Howard League responds to Garth prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Garth prison in Lancashire, published today (Wednesday 19 April).

Even the inspectors did not feel safe when they visited Garth in January. They found that the prison was violent and had major drugs problems. There had been 121 assaults and fights in the preceding six months – far higher than before the previous inspection.

Many incidents had involved the use of weapons, with prisoners being treated for broken bones, serious facial injuries, stab wounds or burns. Inspectors counted at least 85 men who had segregated themselves from other prisoners because they feared for their safety.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is the latest in a shamefully long line of concerning inspection reports on a prison system that is failing and dangerous.

“I visited Garth recently and saw first-hand the challenges that the prison is facing. Inspectors have noted that some progress has been made, so it is disappointing that the governor, who has only been there a short time, is about to leave.

“A general election is only seven weeks away, and one of the first challenges for a new government will be to solve the problems in prisons, which are now like rivers of crime.

“Bold but sensible action is needed to reduce pressure on the system and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of violence and despair.”

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.
  1. A copy of the Garth inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
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