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17 Jan 2023

Howard League responds to Isle of Wight prison inspection report

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prison’s report on Isle of Wight prison, published today (Tuesday 17 January).

Inspectors found that the prison, which holds people convicted of sexual offences, is failing to prepare for their release.

Acute staffing shortages, including a lack of qualified psychologists, meant that the prison was failing to deliver programmes to the same levels as before the Covid-19 pandemic. A severely restricted regime meant that some prisoners were locked in their cells for 22 hours a day. One in five men left the prison without somewhere sustainable to live.

The prison was struggling across the board, with declining standards in all aspects, and particular concerns around rising levels of self-harm and suicides. The report emphasised “significant deterioration” in important outcomes such as safety, respect for human dignity, available purposeful activity, and rehabilitation and release planning.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Time and again, we are seeing inspection reports stressing that severe staffing shortages are reaching a crisis point in our prisons.

“Lack of adequate staffing is contributing to unsafe environments and higher levels of violence, with restricted regimes where men are excessively locked in cells and failing to prepare for release.

“Staff shortages and poorly resourced regimes mean that even prisons with specialist functions like the Ise of Wight are now operating as little more than human warehouses. The government must act urgently to manage demand for prison places and properly resource the system to keep the public safe.”

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.
  2. The inspection report for Isle of Wight prison is available here:


Noor Khan

Press and Public Affairs Officer

Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873



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