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30 Oct 2019

Howard League responds to Feltham prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ reports on Feltham prison, published today (Wednesday 30 October). The reports cover inspections of both the ‘A’ part of the prison, which holds children, and the ‘B’ part, which holds young adults.

Inspectors visited Feltham in July and found an “appalling decline” in standards in the children’s unit.

This was the second inspection of Feltham prison carried out this year, in response to disturbing intelligence received by the inspectorate. The first inspection, conducted in January, found that the children’s unit was unsafe and deteriorating.

In July, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons was so concerned by conditions in Feltham ‘A’ that he invoked the urgent notification process, and the decision was taken to stop moving boys into the prison. But today’s report reveals that decision has been reversed, in spite of an inspection that found “neither boys nor staff were safe”.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Only a few months ago, we said that Feltham ‘A’ was an irredeemably flawed institution. Nothing has changed. It is not working, and it is not going to work.

“We should remember that this is an institution holding school-age children and that Feltham ‘A’ has faced a litany of damning inspection reports. Any school with such an unmitigated record of failure would be closed on the spot, yet Feltham ‘A’ is now reopening its gates to more children.

“This appalling situation cannot be allowed to continue. Holding children in such terrible conditions throws them into a torrent of chaos and violence and does nothing to steer them to safer shores. Feltham ‘A’ fails these children, and society as a whole, and therefore should be closed.”

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 runs a free and confidential legal advice line for children and young people in custody. The charity has continued to receive calls from and on behalf of children in Feltham since the urgent notification protocol was triggered in July.
  1. Copies of the Feltham inspection reports will be available from Wednesday 30 October 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
Campaigns and Communications Manager
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