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23 Nov 2018

Revealed: The filthy prisons where prisoners can’t keep clean

Many prisoners in England and Wales say they are unable to shower every day, with some children in custody getting only two showers a week, the Howard League for Penal Reform has found.

Survey results from official inspections reveal that, in some of the most troubled jails, less than half of prisoners said that they were able to shower daily.

In one London prison, the proportion of men who said that they could shower daily was just one in six.

The figures highlight poor hygiene in a failing prison system that remains beleaguered by problems caused by chronic overcrowding and staffing shortages.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The government has said that it wants prisons to be clean and decent, but is ignoring the fact that thousands of children and adult men are smelly and dirty because they cannot get a shower. It’s no good cleaning up prisons if prisoners are not able to keep clean.

“If we want people to be work ready, and ready to reintegrate to lead a good and useful life, people in prison must be at least able to have a shower every morning, eat breakfast and face the day with purpose. Squalor and idleness will not ready people to be law-abiding citizens on release.

“Bold action is needed to reduce the number of people behind bars and ease pressure on a prison system that is failing everyone.”

The Howard League analysed the results from prisoner surveys undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons during each prison’s most recent inspection.

In Belmarsh prison, in south-east London, only one in six men (17 per cent) who responded to the inspectorate’s survey said that they were able to have a shower every day.

Other prisons with alarming survey results include Isis (24 per cent), Aylesbury (25 per cent), Swinfen Hall (27 per cent), Dartmoor (31 per cent) and Pentonville (36 per cent).

Feltham, in west London, is another prison where access to showers is poor. The prison is split into two parts – Feltham ‘A’, which holds boys, and Feltham ‘B’, which holds young men.

Surveys show that, in Feltham A, only 39 per cent of the children who responded said that they could have a shower every day. The proportion of young men who could shower in Feltham B was slightly higher, but still low at 57 per cent.

In a further 28 prisons, less than 80 per cent of respondents said they could shower daily. They were: Birmingham (71 per cent); Brixton (61 per cent); Bullingdon (78 per cent); Cardiff (77 per cent); Durham (77 per cent); Elmley (77 per cent); Featherstone (79 per cent); Guys Marsh (78 per cent); Holme House (77 per cent); Leeds (78 per cent); Lincoln (51 per cent); Liverpool (65 per cent); Manchester (71 per cent); New Hall (79 per cent); Norwich (79 per cent); Nottingham (76 per cent); Portland (66 per cent); Preston (64 per cent); Risley (78 per cent); Swaleside (67 per cent); Swansea (65 per cent); The Mount (75 per cent); Wandsworth (51 per cent); Werrington (69 per cent); Wetherby (76 per cent); Winchester (55 per cent); Woodhill (77 per cent); and Wormwood Scrubs (63 per cent).

Through its legal work, the Howard League is aware that some children in custody are getting only two showers a week. At least one prison has a policy stating that this is the “minimum expectation” for some of the children in its care.

The Howard League runs a free and confidential legal advice line for children and young people in custody.

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. In 2017 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons published a report on living conditions inside prisons, together with photographs taken during official inspections. Life in prison: Living conditions can be found on the inspectorate’s website.
  1. The survey results for each prison in England and Wales are listed in the table below:
Prison Date of inspection Respondents who said they could shower every day
Altcourse 2017 95%
Ashfield 2015 99%
Askham Grange 2014 100%
Aylesbury 2017 25%
Bedford 2016 80%
Belmarsh 2018 17%
Birmingham 2017 71%
Brinsford 2017 81%
Bristol 2017 85%
Brixton 2017 61%
Bronzefield 2015 92%
Buckley Hall 2016 97%
Bullingdon 2017 78%
Bure 2017 96%
Cardiff 2016 77%
Channings Wood 2016 84%
Chelmsford 2018 80%
Coldingley 2017 99%
Cookham Wood 2017 98%
Dartmoor 2017 31%
Deerbolt 2018 96%
Doncaster 2017 94%
Dovegate 2017 96%
Downview 2017 98%
Drake Hall 2016 99%
Durham 2016 77%
East Sutton Park 2016 99%
Eastwood Park 2016 92%
Elmley 2015 77%
Erlestoke 2017 97%
Exeter 2018 82%
Featherstone 2016 79%
Feltham A* 2017-18 39%
Feltham B* 2017 57%
Ford 2016 99%
Forest Bank 2016 93%
Foston Hall 2016 91%
Frankland 2016 98%
Full Sutton 2016 97%
Garth 2017 95%
Gartree 2017 91%
Glen Parva 2015 80%
Grendon 2017 98%
Guys Marsh 2016 78%
Haverigg 2017 90%
Hewell 2016 90%
High Down 2018 90%
Highpoint 2015 97%
Hindley 2017 91%
Hollesley Bay 2014 98%
Holme House 2017 77%
Hull 2018 90%
Humber 2017 95%
Huntercombe 2017 93%
Isis 2016 24%
Isle of Wight 2015 92%
Kirkham 2018 99%
Kirklevington Grange 2014-15 99%
Lancaster Farms 2015 87%
Leeds 2017 78%
Leicester 2018 81%
Lewes 2015-16 91%
Leyhill 2016 98%
Lincoln 2017 51%
Lindholme 2017 94%
Littlehey 2015 92%
Liverpool 2017 65%
Long Lartin 2018 95%
Low Newton 2018 92%
Lowdham Grange 2015 99%
Maidstone 2015 93%
Manchester 2014 71%
Moorland 2016 90%
New Hall 2015 79%
North Sea Camp 2017 99%
Northumberland 2017 92%
Norwich 2016 79%
Nottingham 2017-18 76%
Oakwood 2018 98%
Onley 2016 92%
Parc 2015-16 96%
Parc Young Person’s Unit (holds children) 2017 84%
Pentonville 2017 36%
Peterborough (men) 2015 93%
Peterborough (women) 2017 95%
Portland 2017 66%
Preston 2017 64%
Ranby 2018 95%
Risley 2016 78%
Rochester 2017 97%
Rye Hill 2015 98%
Send 2018 99%
Spring Hill 2017 97%
Stafford 2016 90%
Standford Hill 2015 100%
Stocken 2015 93%
Stoke Heath 2015 91%
Styal 2018 93%
Sudbury 2017 92%
Swaleside 2016 67%
Swansea 2017 65%
Swinfen Hall 2016 27%
Thameside 2017 98%
The Mount 2018 75%
Thorn Cross 2016 99%
Usk/Prescoed 2017 97%
Wakefield 2018 95%
Wandsworth 2018 51%
Warren Hill 2015 100%
Wayland 2017 87%
Wealstun 2015 96%
Werrington 2018 69%
Wetherby 2018 76%
Whatton 2016 98%
Whitemoor 2017 87%
Winchester 2016 55%
Woodhill 2018 77%
Wormwood Scrubs 2017 63%
Wymott 2016 90%

*Feltham prison is split into two parts – Feltham ‘A’, which holds boys, and Feltham ‘B’, which holds young men.

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094

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