Skip Content

10 Jun 2016

Howard League responds to Moorland prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Moorland prison in South Yorkshire, published today (Friday 10 June).

Inspectors visited the resettlement prison in February and found that it was “facing some immense challenges, and the progress that has been made will prove to be fragile if these challenges are not met”.

The prison was operating a restricted regime. Inspectors found that 30 per cent of prisoners were not involved in purposeful activity, “which was very poor for a resettlement prison”.

About half of prisoners surveyed said that it was easy to get drugs – up from 28 per cent at the time of the inspection. One in eight men said that they had developed a drug problem since being in the prison.

Inspectors found that the impact of new psychoactive substances posed a “severe” threat to the stability of the prison, with several “acute health incidents” recorded every day.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This report is another sign that the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, which included the creation of resettlement prisons, is not working.

“Moorland is a resettlement prison that is not overcrowded and therefore does not have the same pressures that other prisons face. Nevertheless, this report uncovers a number of problems, not least the reality that one in three prisoners has nothing to do during the working day. People turn to drugs when faced with idleness and despair.

“This is very poor, as the inspectors say themselves, and it begs the question: What exactly does the Ministry of Justice think a resettlement prison should be doing?”

Almost one in five prisoners said that they felt unsafe, and incidents of violence and self-injury were rising. There had been 77 assaults on prisoners, 70 fights and 27 assaults on staff in the six months prior to the inspection.

Inspectors found that the adjudications system in Moorland – the system of punishment for prisoners who break prison rules – appeared to have lost credibility and was taking up a great deal of staff and management time.

This was noticed in the segregation unit, where the adjudications workload meant that an officer was taken away from frontline duties for long periods. This made it impossible to give every segregated prisoner daily basic elements of the regime – such as a shower, time in the open air or a telephone call.

The number of adjudications had more than doubled since the last inspection.

The Howard League’s free advice line has received a number of calls about issues arising in Moorland prison, such as concerns about regime, adjudications, and treatment and conditions.

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 Moorland inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Friday 10 June.
  1. Copies of Punishment in Prison: The world of prison discipline, the Howard League’s report on adjudications, can be downloaded from the charity’s website.


Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

  • Join the Howard League

    We are the world's oldest prison charity, bringing people together to advocate for change.

    Join us and make your voice heard
  • Support our work

    We safeguard our independence and do not accept any funding from government.

    Make a donation