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2 Mar 2016

Safety deteriorates in Werrington prison

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Werrington prison, published today (Wednesday 2 March).

Inspectors visited the prison in October last year and found that, while there had been improvements in education and resettlement, safety had deteriorated.

The Howard League’s free advice line – the only confidential legal service available to children and young adults for help about their incarceration – has received a number of calls about issues arising in Werrington.

The Howard League is also concerned at the high number of additional days imposed on children as punishment for breaking prison rules. These rose by ten-fold in Werrington between 2010 and 2014.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Many of the shocking details of today’s report – such as the high levels of violence and bullying and the account of boys spending as little as four hours out of their cell each day – mirror the problems we have come to routinely expect in inspections of failing adult prisons. Unlike overcrowded adult jails, however, Werrington does not have the excuse of being required to look after more people than it was intended to hold.

“One 15-year-old boy told us that, on transfer to Werrington, he was not provided with medication that he had been taking for many years. As a consequence he struggled to cope and was repeatedly restrained.

“We heard from a mother who was concerned about her 16-year-old son’s deteriorating mental health and treatment at the prison. At the time of her call he had been in the segregation unit for more than a month, effectively in solitary confinement.

“We were also contacted by an 18-year-old who told us about the prison’s failure to protect him from threats and harassment, and its subsequent decision to punish him when his fears materialised.

“All this underlines our concern that we send children to prisons like Werrington in the first place. It is time to stop talking about the different ways in which we can lock up children and instead have a serious conversation about how to reduce the numbers to the very few who need to be 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.
  2. A copy of the Werrington inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Wednesday 2 March.
  3. More information about prisons’ use of adjudications is included in a Howard League report, Punishment in prison: The world of prison discipline.
  4. Information about adjudications at Werrington prison were included in an answer given by Prisons Minister Andrew Selous MP, in response to a question by Andy Slaughter MP on 13 January 2016.


Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
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