HMP Wormwood Scrubs is a category B local prison for adult males in the early stages of custody, usually remanded from the local Magistrate and Crown Courts. It is tasked with the resettlement and integration of inmates, but is currently failing in this area. It has a capacity of 1279. The population of the prison is said to be vulnerable with 50% of the population from Black, Minority and Ethnic backgrounds and a full one third are foreign nationals. There are currently 83 young men there who are under the age of 21.Wormwood Scrubs had held some infamous prisoners in its time. The most well known was probably Ian Brady, partner of Moira Hindley, convicted of ‘The Moors Murders’. Charles Bronson, Britain’s most violent prisoner also spent time in ‘the Scrubs’ until he was transferred after attempting to strangle the prison governor!
The most recent inspection in August 2017 condemned the prison as not substantially improving since May 2014. The report called the prison unsafe with high levels of serious violence occurring on a regular basis. Over 50% of the prisoners spent up to 23 hours a day in their cells. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, wrote that staff shortages, inexperienced officers and the challenge of recruiting new officers were partially to blame, and he said the Prison and Probation service really must step up to improve the prison.
The report praised the Governor, Steve Bradford for his hard work against almost impossible odds. Clarke noted there was a high use of force in the prison but it was appropriate to the situations and that officers had good working relationships with the prisoners. It was also noted that the prison often ran out of basic items leaving officers scavenging for them, this was not helping the situation, as prisoners were frustrated at the lack of items and basic foodstuff.