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13 Sep 2018

Howard League responds to Bedford prison urgent notification

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded after Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons wrote an urgent notification letter to the Secretary of State for Justice, raising concerns about Bedford prison.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This damning verdict on Bedford prison has not come out of nowhere; as the Chief Inspector says, this is a story of inexorable and unchecked decline.

“Since the beginning of 2016, at least six men in Bedford prison have lost their lives through suicide. We have seen consistent warnings about overcrowding and violence, a shocking riot, the creation of a performance improvement plan and the imposition of special measures – and none of these drastic events has prompted decisive action to turn the prison around.

“Particularly concerning is what this sustained failure says about the prison system as a whole. In the past, when individual prisons have come to a point of crisis and been flagged as being of urgent concern, we have seen resources diverted from elsewhere to sort it out. Now, the system is so overburdened and under-resourced that it cannot even plug those gaps.

“Enough is enough. More jails will fail and many more people will be hurt unless we see bold action to reduce the prison population.”

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. The Chief Inspector of Prison’s Urgent Notification letter about Bedford prison can be read on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
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