3 Feb 2023
Howard League responds to Eastwood Park prison inspection report
The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prison’s report on Eastwood Park prison, published today (Friday 3 February).
Located in Gloucestershire, the prison was described as holding ‘acutely mentally unwell women’ who are being held in ‘cells with scratches and bloodstains on the wall’. Inspectors with considerable experience described conditions and treatment in the prison as the worst they had ever seen.
Currently, 348 women are held in Eastwood Park, the overwhelming majority (83%) of whom suffer from mental health problems and have reportedly very high instances of self-harm. There is little to no help for those at risk of suicide or self-harm, but uses of force against inmates had increased by around 75% since the last inspection.
Describing the situation at the prison, Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, called its inmates ‘some of the most vulnerable women across the prison estate’, who were subject to extreme levels of distress and ‘terrible conditions’.
The report details conditions in the prison as ‘appalling’ and ‘dilapidated’, with blood spatters and extensive scratching across walls indicating the intense trauma suffered by the women they imprison.
Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League, said: “Three days after the Female Offender Strategy Delivery Plan, this report on Eastwood Park is a stark reminder of the vast gap between Ministry of Justice rhetoric and the reality suffered by vulnerable women trapped in the prison estate.
“Rather than offering the compassion and support promised in their Strategy, the government continues to re-traumatise these women by imprisoning them in deplorable conditions, with no support for their significant mental and physical needs.
“Most women are in custody for very short prison sentences, mostly for property offences. They are not dangerous women; they are vulnerable women. That the inspectors have found that conditions at Eastwood Park are ‘unsafe’ heaps further shame on a broken system.”
Notes to editors
- 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.
- The inspection report for Eastwood Park is available on His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons website.
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