Government ‘failing to maintain prisons’ - report - The Evesham Observer

Government ‘failing to maintain prisons’ - report

Evesham Editorial 7th Feb, 2020   0

THE GOVERNMENT is failing to provide and maintain safe, secure and decent prisons and its flagship bid to address this has not delivered, according to a new National Audit Office report published today (Friday).

More than 40 per cent of inspected prisons were rated as ‘poor’ or ‘not sufficiently good’ for safety in the last five years.

Over the last decade, HMPPS (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service) has taken 1,730 cells permanently out of use and it expects to lose 500 places a year because of the poor conditions of the remaining estate.

More than 40 per cent of prisons need major repair or replacement in the next three years. There is currently a backlog of major repairs that will cost £916million to fix.




There is a surplus of 18,700 places in local prisons for people serving short sentences or on remand awaiting sentencing. However, there is a shortfall of 15,000 training and resettlement places. Local prisons are intended to hold prisoners for a short time.

However, they are increasingly holding longer-sentenced prisoners because of the lack of places to support prisoners’ transition into the community.


Long Lartin in Eveham has been blighted by riots in recent years and a prison officers was hospitalised in September following the third riot in as many years.

HMPPS has been focussed on sorting out the immediate needs of the prison estate, investing its resources to address prison population pressures and deteriorating prison conditions.

Today’s report recommends HMPPS develop a long-term strategy which sets out exactly what conditions prisoners should be held in and minimum levels of investment needed to ensure a safe, decent environment.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “HMPPS has not been able to create enough prison places, in the right type of prisons and at the right time to meet demand. It has failed to deliver the savings it hoped for by contracting out prison maintenance services. Prisons remain in a poor condition, poor safety has reached record levels, and there are huge maintenance backlogs.

“The Government has recently committed to creating 10,000 new prison places and needs to learn lessons from its recent experiences.

“Crucially, HMPPS must work with the Ministry of Justice and Treasury to develop a long-term, deliverable strategy that will provide prisons that are fit for purpose,” he added.

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