HMP Bedford – IMB statement in response to Urgent Notification

HMIP have announced their decision to issue an Urgent Notification in relation to HMP Bedford, following concerns raised by an inspection.

The IMB have also had significant concerns and the Board at HMP Bedford has issued the following statement:

 

“The Bedford IMB is sad, but not surprised, that an Urgent Notice has been served. The prison has gone backwards in recent months with regular shortages of basic items, far too long between kit changes, pigeons flying round inside the jail, infestations of cockroaches and, more recently rats, in most areas. 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.

Despite numerous attempts at refurbishment, the environment of the segregation unit is simply appalling. It is a dungeon. The toilets frequently block, there has been a consistent infestation of cockroaches and, during the summer, there has been a plague of rats.

Violence has increased steadily over the last 12 months and there has been an increased viciousness of individual attacks on officers. The mental health service is also inadequate in terms of its resources and coverage.

We recognise that a lot of effort has been put into making improvements and in many areas that has been successful. But the urgent notification reflects two long-running issues that our Board has repeatedly drawn attention to:

  • The legacy of inadequate maintenance and investment in a pre-Victorian prison
  • The mass exodus of experienced officers. Ultimately, although new officers can (and have) been appointed, it is impossible to just turn on the tap of experience. Learning ‘jail craft’ takes time, and the prison has not had enough of it.”