The annual report of the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, shows that the performance of the prison estate for 2014/15 was the worst in a decade. The decline in standards was most pronounced in the men’s estate where the cuts to staffing, prison overcrowding and wider policy changes have had a significant effect on safety. The report also found a serious deficiency in both the quality and quantity of purposeful activity for prisoners.
In what is his final report as Chief Inspector, Nick Hardwick writes:
Three broad themes emerge from this report and review – not just of the last year but of the five years since I was appointed. First, the increased vulnerability of those held across the range of establishments we inspect and the challenge establishments have in meeting these individuals’ needs. Too often locking someone up out of sight provides a short-term solution, but fails to provide the long-term answers more effective multi-agency community solutions would provide. Second, there is a real need to match the demand for custodial services to the resources available. Detention is one of the public services where demand can be managed. Alternatives to the use of custody may be unpalatable but so, no doubt, are the other public expenditure choices that government has to make. Third, the case for the independent inspection of custody remains as strong as ever and that independence needs to be preserved.
Read the full report here.