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4 Jan 2018

Howard League responds to Swansea prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Swansea prison, published today (Thursday 4 January).

Inspectors visited the prison in August last year and found that it had a “complacent and inexcusable” approach to the safety of vulnerable prisoners, failing to respond effectively to high levels of self-injury and men losing their lives through suicide.

Since the last inspection, conducted in 2014, four men had died by suicide within a week of arriving at the prison.

A tool on the Howard League website, which compares population figures for prisons, shows that Swansea is currently the fifth-most overcrowded jail in England and Wales. Figures published by the Ministry of Justice last month showed that Swansea was designed to accommodate 268 men but was actually holding 431.

Research by the Howard League has shown that more than 1,200 additional days of imprisonment were imposed on men in Swansea prison following adjudication hearings in 2016, a sure indication of a prison in trouble.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The new year has begun as the last one ended. Less than a month after we saw an appalling report on Wormwood Scrubs, this inspection of Swansea prison should compel ministers to act without delay.

“Swansea is one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, where men find it easier to get drugs than clean clothes and bedding. But most concerning of all are the terrible findings on self-injury and suicide, which show that this prison is failing to learn lessons from past mistakes and men are dying as a consequence.

“People should not be sent to prison to die. Bold action to reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime, violence and despair.”

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 Swansea prison inspection report will be available from Thursday 4 January on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.
  1. Overcrowding figures for each prison in England and Wales can be found on the Howard League website.
  1. The imposition of additional days of imprisonment is the focus of a Howard League report, Out of control: punishment in prison.


Rob Preece
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