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25 Feb 2016

Ranby prison: Overwhelmed and overcrowded

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Ranby prison, published today (Thursday 25 February).

Inspectors visited the prison in August and September last year and found that not enough progress had been made since the last inspection, which was highly critical, 17 months earlier.

Ranby was overwhelmed and overcrowded. The number of assaults – including serious assaults on both prisoners and staff – and incidents of self-injury was much higher than at similar prisons.

Six people had died by suicide in Ranby since the last inspection. The death of another prisoner is being treated as manslaughter.

Ranby was trying to combat a surge in the availability of new psychoactive substances. More than half of prisoners told inspectors that it was easy to get drugs, and 15 per cent said that they had developed a problem with drugs in the prison.

Inspectors have encouraged the National Offender Management Service – the agency responsible for prisons – to take urgent action to reduce prisoner numbers, increase staffing and make Ranby’s role less complex.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a terrible report on Ranby prison, which comes only 17 months after the last one and follows a long line of critical inspections of jails across England and Wales. As the findings of today’s report spell out, the policies of successive governments in cramming more and more prisoners into the system have left prisons unable to cope. Cuts to staff and resources, alongside complex restructuring, have now made this approach untenable. The Prime Minister has recognised that prisons are failing and that wholesale reform is needed. Action cannot come too soon as conditions are getting worse by the day and, in prisons such as Ranby, people are dying as a result.”

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 Ranby inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Thursday 25 February at:


Rob Preece
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