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24 Jul 2023

Howard League responds to Risley prison inspection report

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Risley prison, published today (Monday 24 July).

Risley is a resettlement prison in Cheshire aimed at preparing people for release, but inspectors visiting in April found the provision of education and employment to be poor, with many men locked in their cells for up to 22 hours a day. Some who were deemed to be at high risk of reoffending had been released to homelessness.

Although 40 per cent of the men living in Risley were serving sentences for sexual offences, inspectors found that there were no accredited programmes available to address their behaviour.

Living conditions were poor, and a lack of suitable dental facilities meant that people had to be sent in small groups to another prison, Thorn Cross, for treatment.

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This report serves as a perfect example of the chaos that exists within our over-burdened and under-resourced prison system – a jail run by temporary governors for most of the last two years, beyond repair in places, where people spend all day locked inside their cells before being released to homelessness.

“Risley is supposed to be preparing people for safe release, so it is astonishing that no accredited programmes are available in a prison where two in five men are serving sentences for sexual offences.

“This is the latest in a long line of reports that show how the prison system has been asked to do too much with too little for too long. The best way to ease the pressure is to reduce the prison population, which has been allowed to grow by more than 4,000 since the beginning of the year.”

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 Risley prison is available on the His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons website at:



Noor Khan

Press and Public Affairs Officer

Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873




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