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8 Jun 2016

Howard League responds to Parc prison inspections

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ reports on G4S-run Parc prison, published today (Wednesday 8 June).

Parc, in Bridgend, South Wales, incorporates an adult prison, which holds more than 1,600 men, and a children’s unit.

Safety concerns were highlighted during the inspection of the children’s unit, which was conducted in January and coincided with the broadcast of a BBC Panorama documentary investigating allegations of child abuse at G4S-run Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent.

Inspectors visited the adult side in November, December and January, and found that drugs were readily available, levels of violence were high and many men felt unsafe.

The Howard League is aware of the deaths of four prisoners in Parc during 2016 so far. Two men are understood to have taken their own lives. One man died of natural causes. The fourth man’s death is being treated as unexplained.

In the children’s unit, the proportion of boys who reported that they had been victimised by staff had more than doubled since the time of the last inspection.

Only one in five boys said that staff would take it seriously if they told them that they had been victimised – compared with about half at the time of the last inspection.

The use of force on children had trebled since the previous inspection. More than 200 incidents were recorded in the six months to the inspection, despite there being fewer than 40 children in the unit.

All incidents on the children’s unit were responded to by staff from the adult prison on the site. In interviews some boys told inspectors that they had been hurt during restraint in areas not covered by CCTV, including cells.

Almost a quarter of the boys reported having been assaulted by other boys in the prison.

The number of adjudications – disciplinary hearings – in the children’s unit had doubled to an average of 77 a month.

Inspectors noted the Howard League’s work in helping children to defend their legal rights and find accommodation.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “These reports raise grave concerns about safety at Parc – both in the huge adult prison, where men have died, and the smaller children’s unit, where use of force against boys has trebled.

“The high levels of violence in the adult jail are an illustration of the dangers of warehousing hundreds of men in large prisons – and it is all the more depressing that a new jail, even larger than Parc, is currently being built in North Wales.

“The report on Parc’s children’s unit chimes with recent scandals seen in secure training centres run by G4S. The Howard League is also aware of serious allegations of racist abuse of children at Parc, which are being investigated.”

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 Parc inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Wednesday 8 June.

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

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

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

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