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18 Oct 2022

Howard League responds to Pentonville prison inspection report

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Pentonville prison, published today (Tuesday 18 October).

Inspectors visited the prison in July and found it to be a “cramped, early Victorian relic” that could not care safely and decently for the men it held. Men were spending too long locked inside their cells, and a high number with mental health needs were unable to get prompt appointments.

Seven men had lost their lives through suicide since the last full inspection, and support for those at risk was not good enough.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is yet another tragic report on Pentonville, which has been under enormous pressure for many years. This prison is supposed to hold about 900 men at most; at the end of last month, it was being asked to accommodate more than 1,100, and more than 60 per cent of the men are in overcrowded cells.

“At the last full inspection in 2019, inspectors raised concerns about safety and decency in Pentonville, insisting that the ‘depressing cycle of promise and further decline cannot be allowed to continue’. But today’s report reveals that little has changed, and seven men have died by suicide in the three years since.

“Ministers should act now to save lives. We cannot go on cramming more and more people into jails such as Pentonville without any thought for the consequences. The solution to this enduring crisis begins with sensible steps to reduce the prison population.”

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 Pentonville inspection report can be found on the His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
Communications Manager
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955

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