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10 Feb 2015

Nottingham: A dangerous, overcrowded and filthy prison

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Nottingham prison, published today (Tuesday 10 February).

Inspectors visited Nottingham in September last year and found it to be a dangerous, overcrowded and filthy prison which had deteriorated significantly since the last inspection.

Long-term staff shortages meant prisoners were spending too long in their cells with nothing to do. Offender managers were completely overwhelmed and even the restricted regime was not being applied consistently.

Inspectors found that the restricted regime and limited access to activities had a particularly negative impact on prisoners at risk of self-harm. Two prisoners in Nottingham have taken their own lives in the last 15 months.

Nottingham is supposed to be in the process of transitioning into a resettlement prison, yet inspectors rated its resettlement services ‘poor’ – the lowest rating available.

Research by the Howard League has found that the number of frontline prison officers in Nottingham was cut by half in less than four years – from 317 at the end of August 2010 to 160 at the end of June 2014.

At the time of the inspection the prison was severely overcrowded. Designed to hold 723 men, it in fact held 1,042.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Nottingham is part of a prison system in meltdown. Report after report has revealed prisons where violence is endemic and people released back on the streets having acquired a drug addiction and destined to a life of increased criminality. This is a system problem, not just one prison. Politicians cannot walk away from the problems they are creating.”

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 Nottingham inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.
  3. The scale of prison staffing cuts across England and Wales is shown in the Howard League’s research briefing paper, Breaking point: Understaffing and overcrowding in prisons.


Rob Preece
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