Three reports highlight appalling conditions at HMP Liverpool, HMP Wormwood Scrubs and HMP Winchester. Liverpool has been branded “the worst prison in Britain” after a leaked report described broken toilets, exposed wiring, rats and cockroaches at the jail. But prisons across the UK are at breaking point with understaffing, deteriorating facilities and soaring levels of drug use, violence and self-harm.

HMP Liverpool

studio portrait of a brown domestic ratRats, cockroaches, exposed wiring and leaking toilets were discovered during an inspection of HMP Liverpool.

A leaked report revealed that inmates at the jail are kept in the worst conditions ever seen by prison inspectors.

After making an unannounced visit in response to concerns over the state of the prison, inspectors said that what they saw was an “abject failure” to provide inmates with safe, decent or purposeful conditions.

The team of inspectors said they “could not recall having seen worse living conditions than those at HMP Liverpool”, and expressed concern that there was no plan for tackling even basic problems at the jail.

According to the report, many prisoners live in squalid conditions and are locked in their cells for 22 hours a day. Half of inmates said they had been victimised by staff and there had been a surge in incidents of self-harm. Violence had risen, exacerbated by the wide availability of drugs.

There were 2,000 unaddressed maintenance jobs and only 22 of the 89 recommendations made in a report in 2015 had been properly implemented.

Darren Harley, who served a prison sentence at Liverpool said it was “like living in a tip”.

“If you put a dog in a place like this, people would come and take you away and lock you up for cruelty to animals,” he added.

“We’re human beings, so we need to be treated right.”

HMP Winchester

HMP Winchester is “on the verge of a major incident”, according to a new report.

By GreenZeb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0

The jail’s Independent Monitoring Board said self-harm, violence and drug-use were all on the rise.

The report said the Victorian prison in Hampshire was understaffed with inadequate facilities, and only the resilience of officers had prevented serious disruption.

Some inmates were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and the ageing facilities were deteriorating.

Levels of violence were high with 17 attacks by inmates every week, while the deaths of four prisoners in a year highlighted “ineffective management of highly vulnerable prisoners”.

HMP Wormwood Scrubs

Inspectors found spiralling levels of violence at HMP Wormwood Scrubs in West London.

Extra CCTV, body-worn cameras and patrol dogs were quickly introduced to tackle high levels of serious violence, including 90 attacks on staff in six months.

Chief inspector Peter Clarke said the jail was an “extremely concerning picture” which must be urgently improved.

“Too many men were locked up for significant periods of the day, often as long as 23 hours,” he said in the report.

“Resettlement and offender management work was fundamentally failing and the prison was not meeting one of its key aims of supporting men to understand and address their offending behaviour and risk.”

Clarke said the governor and his team worked tirelessly but he was not confident they could deliver improvements without extra support.

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