Temporary ‘management boost’ and pepper spray – not enough for HMP Bedford

Bedford prison

Temporary ‘management boost’ and pepper spray – not enough to improve HMP Bedford says MP

The Justice Secretary, David Gauke has issued an improvement plan for HMP Bedford, following an official warning about unacceptable conditions.

The plan sees the number of prisoners reduced by 76, additional senior mangers seconded to boost the number of experienced staff and an ‘Officer Development Programme’ introduced to provide training to less experienced team members.

In an effort to clamp down on drug use within the prison, new grilles will be fitted to some of the windows to mitigate the risk from ‘throw overs’. In addition, educational and skills provision for inmates is being boosted and some areas are being refurbished.

The improvement plan has been dismissed by Mohammad Yasin MP, who said: “‘No amount of paint, cleaning or refurbishment of showers is going to deal with the fundamental problem – the prison is old, the cells are cramped, and the facilities are not even fit for the last century. It – like the rest of the prison estate – needs a radical overhaul. To have committed to assessing disabled prisoners by the end of October when the lack of sanitary facilities for those prisoners was highlighted in last month’s Urgent notification is disgraceful.

Prison Officers have been working in fear of their lives for years – putting in a bit of temporary management support and issuing them with pepper sprays isn’t the solution.”

The system needs proper investment. It needs many more officers, and proper equipment for those officers. It needs robust mental health services, and it needs a strong focus on rehabilitation. And all of that investment must go hand in hand with proper funding for our police force, for local Councils, for our probation services – for drug and alcohol and domestic violence services – for our schools – otherwise the cycle of offending continues and our prisons will continue to be bursting at the seams. What we are seeing now in our prisons is the impact of years of painful, pointless austerity.”