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15 Aug 2014

Violence every day: Hindley prison struggling to keep boys safe

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Hindley prison, published today (15 August).

Inspectors found that, despite ‘significant improvements’, Hindley was ‘still struggling to keep some of the boys it held safe’. There had been 251 reports of bullying and 167 self-harm incidents in the previous six months. On average, there was a fight or assault every day. This was despite the fact that the children’s wings at the prison were operating at a third empty.

The inspection report mentions the particularly troubling case of a boy who was punched and kicked by a group while another boy kept watch. The incident only came to light when CCTV was viewed later.

Inspectors found there had been a number of incidents of boys being strip-searched while being restrained.

The inspection took place while the inquest of 17-year-old Jake Hardy was in progress. Jake hanged himself in his Hindley cell in January 2012. The inquest jury found that multiple failings by staff contributed to his death.

Also during the inspection, it was announced that the number of young adults held in Hindley would increase significantly. In his report, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick warns that ‘there was a real risk that this would detract attention from the safe management of the very vulnerable and challenging younger boys that the establishment had’.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a patchy report, even though the children’s wings at the prison were only two-thirds full at the time of the inspection. Hindley’s first priority should be to keep all boys safe, and this is not being achieved. It is completely inappropriate to put young adults together with children in such a dangerous environment, and the government should reverse this decision immediately. This report illustrates how the government is putting children at risk with its plan to build a huge new jail that will mix younger boys, and girls, with older teenagers with too few staff. Prisons are dangerous places for children.”

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 Hindley inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.
  3. Details of the inquest touching the death of Jake Hardy can be found here.
  4. The government has plans to build a prison for 320 children in Leicestershire. The ‘secure college’ proposal, if passed, would create the largest child prison in Europe, to hold 12 to 17-year-olds. The plans are included in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
  5. The Howard League has called on the government to curtail the use of short prison sentences and custodial remands in its submission to the independent review into self-inflicted deaths in National Offender Management Service (NOMS) custody of 18 to 24-year-olds.


Rob Preece
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