Bedford Prison: Inspection Reveals Violent, Vermin-Infested Wings, Sparking Protests Across England and Wales

HMP Bedford is a Category B men’s prison in Bedford, operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service. It has a capacity of 506 and accepts inmates remanded into custody from Luton Crown Court, St Albans Crown Court and Magistrates’ Courts in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. It was recently issued with an urgent notification after an inspection revealed rising violence and vermin-infested wings, prompting prison staff across England and Wales to protest. The notice triggers a process which gives the government 28 days to publish a plan of action to improve the prison.

Bedford Prison Inmates “Effectively Control Jail”

Inmates have effectively taken control of Bedford Prison, a watchdog has warned. Inspectors found wings invested with rats and cockroaches and strewn with rubbish, the smell of drugs pervading some wings and prisoners ignoring rules. Bedford was found to have experienced more assaults on staff than any other prison in England and Wales, with 116 in the past six months.

The report stated: “The struggle to keep the prison clean is being lost and at times the amount of litter and rubbish lying around is disgusting. These are not appropriate conditions in which to detain prisoners in the 21st century.”

The chief inspector of prisons has triggered an urgent notification process at the jail, making Bedford the fourth prison to be subject to the recently introduced measure, after Exeter, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Mr Clarke said of HMP Bedford: “There was a dangerous lack of control in many parts of the prison, leading us to fear that there could all too easily be a complete breakdown in order and discipline.

“At times it felt as if prisoners were effectively in control, choosing when or if to comply with directions and consent to authority.”

Prison Staff Protest Nationally Over Conditions at HMP Bedford

Prison staff across England and Wales protested after a report warned of a “dangerous lack of control” at HMP Bedford. Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “I’m fed up of hearing of my members receiving smashed eye sockets, broken arms, broken legs, broken jaws, being attacked, spat on, having excrement and urine thrown at them, and enough is enough now.”

Members of the POA were called on to protest outside prisons from 7am on September 14, 2018.

Prison Staff Hurt at Bedford Prison

It was reported on September 17, 2018, that at least four prison staff were hurt during a disturbance at HMP Bedford. Riot squads regained control after violence broke out, according to the Prison Officers’ Association. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice rejected the claim that riot squads were deployed and said staff on duty were able to deal with the “bit of violence” that unfolded.

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