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9 May 2018

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 (Wednesday 9 May). The report considers the ‘A’ part of the prison, which holds boys aged 18 and under.

Inspectors visited the prison in December and January and found that it had made progress since its previous inspection, which had uncovered major failings in relation to safety and purposeful activity.

The Howard League legal team is still receiving a large number of calls, however, from children who say that they are spending 23 hours or more a day locked in their cells.

The Howard League runs a free and confidential legal advice line for children and young people in custody. In the last 12 months, the charity has received enquiries in respect of about 30 boys in Feltham, including some as young as 15. About three-quarters of this number were from black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “There have been some improvements in Feltham and there had to be, because the prison was so dire at its last inspection that the inspectors declared it unsafe for boys and unsafe for staff.

“No one should pretend, however, that Feltham is a suitable place for a child. Less than half of the boys are able to have a shower every day, and we keep getting calls from children telling us that they are stuck in their cells for hours and hours on end.”

Calls to the Howard League about Feltham

The majority of calls about Feltham that the Howard League has received have raised concerns about treatment and conditions.

A man called the charity because he was concerned about his 16-year-old son, who had limited association and was locked up for 23 hours a day. The father was particularly concerned about his son’s lack of physical exercise and said that he was looking gaunt.

A 17-year-old boy called the charity to say that he was locked in his cell for 23 hours a day because the prison did not have enough staff. He told the legal team that he had not had a shower for four days and had not had association for two weeks. He said that visits from professionals were frequently delayed or did not happen at all.

Another child called to say he was locked in his cell for 23 hours a day. For more than a week, he had not been getting any education at all. He was being segregated under YOI Rule 49 but had not attended any reviews to see what he needed to do to get out of segregation. He had put in a number of complaints but had not received any responses.

The Howard League heard of a 17-year-old boy in Feltham who had no legal advice in an adjudication before the governor. The matter was initially referred out to the police, but the police took no further action so it was sent back to the prison. The child found out the day before, so he was unable to get legal advice. When the boy asked for an adjournment to allow him to seek legal advice, his request was refused.

Another 17-year-old boy in Feltham called the Howard League two days before he was due to be released. He did not have an address to be released to and was on a care order. His family lived in London, but the local authority was proposing to place him outside of the city against his wishes.

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 Howard League legal team represents a boy who, while in Feltham, spent 55 days locked in his cell for more than 23 hours a day. Last year the High Court ruled that the boy, identified in court documents as AB, had been treated unlawfully – but the court stopped short of accepting that keeping AB in isolation for more than 22 hours a day was inhuman or degrading treatment. The Howard League is appealing this part of the ruling on behalf of AB, and the case is scheduled to be heard in the Court of Appeal in November. More information about the case can be found on the Howard League website.
  1. A copy of the Feltham ‘A’ inspection report will be available from Wednesday 9 May on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
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