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20 Jun 2017

Howard League responds to Lincoln prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Lincoln prison, published today (Tuesday 20 June).

Inspectors visited the prison in January and February 2017 and found that, while some progress had been made since its last inspection in 2013, it was failing to provide decent and safe conditions. It was overcrowded and violent, with prisoners spending too long in their cells due to staff shortages.

Violence had increased significantly, and about half of prisoners surveyed said that they had felt unsafe in Lincoln prison at some time. In the six months prior to the inspection, there were 126 assaults and fights – more than double the number recorded in the corresponding period before the previous inspection.

Four men had lost their lives through suicide since the previous inspection, but inspectors found no overarching plan to monitor the implementation of important recommendations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. Incidents of self-injury had trebled since the last inspection.

Inspectors could not be completely confident of how frequently force was used against prisoners. Documents were incomplete, incidents were not reported, and very few cases were reviewed.

Cells lacked basic facilities, such as curtains and lockable cupboards. Toilets were poorly screened off and many were dirty. Some prisoners told inspectors that they slept in their clothes because the heating did not work properly.

One in five men was released from Lincoln prison without a fixed address. Most of them were directed to homelessness services.

Anita Dockley, Research Director at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Put simply, this is a jail with too few officers and too few resources, being asked to look after too many men. While prison inspectors acknowledge prison staff working to improve conditions at Lincoln prison, this disappointing report shows the scale of the challenge in front of them.

“Lincoln’s position is not unique. Only last week, we saw inspection reports on two London prisons – Pentonville and Brixton – that presented a similarly bleak picture.

“The new government must take bold but sensible action to save lives by reducing the prison population. This would help to 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.
  2. A copy of the Lincoln prison inspection report will be available from Tuesday 20 June on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
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