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27 Apr 2016

Leeds prison inspection: A snapshot of a troubled prison system

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Leeds prison, published today (Wednesday 27 April).

Inspectors visited the prison in November and December last year and found that it was overcrowded, understaffed, and had deteriorated markedly.

Violence in the prison had increased significantly and had reached levels that were double what is typically seen in local prisons. There was an average of 32 assaults on prisoners and staff each month. About 10 per cent of assaults resulted in serious injury.

Inspectors found that the prevalence of new psychoactive substances was a major factor in the rise in violence.

Seven men had taken their own lives since the last inspection, conducted in 2013.

The prison was holding 1,149 men at the time of the inspection – despite being designed to accommodate only 669.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This grim report is a snapshot of a troubled prison system. Like many other jails across England and Wales, Leeds is overcrowded, under-resourced, and failing to keep prisoners, staff and the public safe.

“We cannot go on cramming more and more people into overcrowded jails without any thought for the consequences. The Queen’s Speech, to be delivered next month, presents an opportunity to set out proposals for much-needed reform – but the urgency of dealing with prisons cannot be postponed for much longer.”

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 Leeds inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Wednesday 27 April.


Rob Preece
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