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23 Aug 2022

Howard League responds to Lewes prison inspection report

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Lewes prison, published today (Tuesday 23 August).

Inspectors visited the prison in East Sussex and found that conditions had deteriorated over the course of the pandemic.

The report highlighted a lack of meaningful activities for prisoners, who were spending 22 hours locked up. Of these prisoners, around half were unemployed, with a shortage of activity spaces or processes to enable them to get into work or education. The prison was also deemed to not be meeting the basic needs of its cohort, with standards of cleanliness significantly lacking.

A concerning oversight of those at risk of suicide or self-harm was found by inspectors, with many prisoners on an assessment, care in custody, and teamwork plan (ACCT) saying that they did not feel cared for.

The report also emphasised the complex issues faced by the prison, including ineffective partnerships between health care and the prison, significant difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff, and the inherent issues borne of running a prison housed in old, inadequate buildings that are challenging to maintain.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Some of the issues highlighted in this report are found in ageing local prisons around the country. Even when these prisons are not overcrowded, as is the case with Lewes, they face a wide range of problems in maintaining and running buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.

“People in prison are suffering due to a lack of adequate staffing, work and education provision, and adequately equipped or hygienic environments. Rather than continuing with plans to expand prison capacity in coming years, the government must focus resources on managing demand for prison places and in improving outcomes in the existing prison estate, which is in dire need of intervention.”

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 Lewes is available on Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Noor Khan
Press and Public Affairs Officer
Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873

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