Skip Content

While you’re here, can you help support our work by making a donation? We are an independent charity and rely on donations to continue our work for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. Please help us secure our future by donating and adding your voice to our movement for change.

Donate close-circle

22 Jan 2019

Howard League responds to Bedford prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Bedford prison, published today (Tuesday 22 January).

Inspectors visited the prison in August and September last year and found that it had suffered an “inexorable decline” in treatment and conditions.

The findings prompted Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, to invoke the ‘Urgent Notification’ protocol, which requires the Secretary of State for Justice to publish an improvement action plan for the prison.

Figures on the Howard League website show that, at the end of last month, the prison could accommodate only 266 men but was being asked to look after 353.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Shocking conditions in the former jail in Bedford were what prompted the great reformer John Howard to dedicate his life to improving prisons.

“More than 200 years have passed, but the photographs in this scathing inspection report show that Bedford is beleaguered by many of the issues that plague our prison system today.

“At least six men have lost their lives through suicide in the last three years. There was a riot. Special measures have been in place for two years. And still this overburdened, under-resourced, rat-infested jail is being forced to look after more men than it is designed to hold.

“Courts must be held to account for the decisions they make, because the continued imposition of short sentences and the overuse of remand are causing problems that spill out of prisons. Exactly as John Howard found all those years ago, prisons like Bedford infect local communities.”

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 Bedford inspection report will be available from Tuesday 22 January on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094

  • Join us

    Add your voice to our movement for change. Every voice counts and we hope that you will add yours.

    Join us today
  • Support our work

    Everything we do is focused on achieving less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison. We need you to act now for penal reform.

    Ways to support