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11 Sep 2020

Howard League responds to Public Accounts Committee report on improving the prison estate

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the cross-party Public Accounts Committee’s report on improving the prison estate, published today (Friday 11 September).

The report, by an influential cross-party panel of MPs, condemns the “failure” of the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service to improve prisons, pointing to “inadequate planning, unrealistic assumptions and poor performance”.

The committee’s inquiry, to which the Howard League submitted written evidence, found that a “staggering” maintenance backlog had been allowed to build up while prisoners were kept in unsafe, crowded conditions that did not meet their needs.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “At a time when bold action is needed to build a brighter future, this report illustrates how successive governments’ negligent and incompetent approach to prison policy has let down the public and held the country back.

“Cramming more and more people into crumbling jails has succeeded only in exposing more and more people to crime, violence and despair. Each and every half-baked measure enacted for reasons of political expediency has demonstrated a lack of care for the people living and working in prisons and a lack of care for future victims of crime, who would be protected if the system worked as it should.

“It is time for ministers to take the logical steps that will tackle these problems and reduce crime. Investing in communities would make people safer, keep families together, ease demand on prisons and free up funds to modernise a system that remains unfit for the 20th century, never mind the 21st.”

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 Howard League’s written submission to the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into improving the prison estate can be found on the charity’s website.


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

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