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4 Jun 2019

Howard League responds to Feltham ‘A’ prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Feltham prison, published today (Tuesday 4 June). The report considers the ‘A’ part of the prison, which holds boys aged 18 and under.

Inspectors visited the prison in January and found an unsafe and deteriorating prison with alarming increases in violence and self-injury.

The Howard League legal team runs a free and confidential legal advice line for children and young people in custody. The charity has received 57 calls in the last year either from or on behalf of children in Feltham, which is the highest call rate about a children’s prison.

The most common concerns raised in calls to the Howard League have been in relation to the treatment and conditions experienced by children, as well as preparing children for resettlement on release from custody.

Problems dealt with by the legal team have included the case of a child who was only being allowed to have two showers a week and one change of clothing a week. As this appeared to be a policy for children on the lowest level of the incentive scheme, the Howard League wrote to Feltham challenging this.

One call concerned a teenager who faced disciplinary measures for criminal damage, despite the incident involving the punching of an object in order to self-harm. The boy was considered at risk of suicide and was subject to observations twice an hour.

The Howard League also received a call from a child’s mother, who was gravely concerned that her son was spending more than 23 hours a day in his cell, not getting access to education and not receiving appropriate medicated shower gel to deal with a longstanding skin condition.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is absolutely depressing, but not surprising  to see Feltham once again slump into further problems around safety, after slight improvements registered by inspectors last year. It is a scandal that thousands of children have gone through its walls over the decades and experienced poor treatment, violence and abusive treatment.

“With such high levels of violence, escalating self-injury among children, and nearly two-thirds of boys experiencing physical restraint, the truth is Feltham is an irredeemably flawed institution.”

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 Feltham ‘A’ inspection report will be available from Tuesday 4 June on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.
  1. A blogpost by Frances Crook, providing more information about cases at Feltham dealt with by the Howard League legal team, can be found on the charity’s website.


Rob Preece
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