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13 Mar 2024

Hindley: A prison holding 600 men, where more than half are using drugs 

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Hindley prison, published today (Tuesday 12 March).

Inspectors visited the prison, in Greater Manchester, in November and December of 2023. It was holding almost 600 young men aged 18 to 25. Mandatory drug testing revealed a positive test rate of 52%, meaning that well over half the men were actively using drugs at the time of the inspection. 

Other concerning issues uncovered in the inspection included high rates of violence and self-harm and significant staff turnover, which meant that many officers were inexperienced. About half the men were locked in their cells during the working day. 

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a worrying report. Hindley is supposed to be a training prison, helping people to move on from crime and prepare for the future, but instead we see hundreds of men locked inside their cells while drug use, violence and self-harm are rife. 

“Drugs are a destructive force in prisons. The best way to reduce their supply is to reduce the demand for them in the first place and the government’s own Prison Drugs Strategy recognises that many people use drugs to relieve boredom and to provide temporary respite from depression and anxiety. This prison needs enough staff on duty to get men out of their cells and into exercise, education, work and training.”

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. The inspection report for Hindley prison is available on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:



Noor Khan 

Press and Public Affairs Officer 

Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873 



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