Skip to main content
01 September 2023

PRT comment: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons issues urgent notification for HMP Woodhill

Reacting to the Urgent Notification for improvement at HMP Woodhill issued by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons today (1 September) Pia Sinha, chief executive of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This is a shocking report on a complex prison with a deeply troubled history, including a spate of self-inflicted deaths in the first half of the last decade. After repeated warnings, it is extremely disappointing that the prison now finds itself in this position. Inspectors had little choice but to issue an urgent notification as a result of their appalling findings.

“Poor staff retention seemed to be at root of many of the problems with more staff leaving than joining the establishment. Staff shortages meant prisoners spent far too long locked in damaged cells with little to do. Levels of serious assault on staff were the highest in England and Wales and seven in 10 prisoners reported feeling unsafe. Rates of self-harm were the highest in the adult male estate. Despite this, inspectors found the induction for new arrivals was very poor, emergency call bells often went unanswered for long periods, and ‘key work’ support from officers was non-existent.

“This is a prison failing in its most basic of duties. As the chief inspector rightly points out, simply warehousing prisoners in dangerous and inhumane conditions does nothing to keep the public safe. Ministers urgently need to get a grip on what has gone wrong.”