PRT comment on HMP Pentonville report
Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Pentonville, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“Despite some welcome improvements, this report is one in a long line of inspectorate reports into large, local Victorian jails which show that the pressures of coping with shrinking budgets and rising prison numbers are turning parts of our prison estate into human warehouses, with staff who are hard pressed to provide purposeful activity, education and employment or meet even the basic needs of such a vulnerable and needy population.
“When Pentonville opened in 1842, only those men deemed fit enough for imprisonment and onward transportation to the colonies were admitted. Today more than one in 10 men received into the prison are malnourished, half are identified as having a drug or alcohol addiction and large numbers are suffering from a mental illness or learning disability. More than half the population are held on remand or for short sentences of less than six months.
“The prison is seriously overcrowded and under staffed with many prisoners housed in cramped and dirty conditions with some cells infested by rats and cockroaches. With the prison operating under such pressure, why then ask it to take on older teenagers and young adults on remand who previously would have been admitted to a dedicated young offenders institution?”