Inhumane conditions at HMP Coldingley to be a thing of the past?

In their 2019-20 annual report published today the IMB at Coldingley highlight a number of concerns, but note that staff make strenuous efforts to keep prisoners safe under difficult circumstances and comment the following:


  • Four out of the five major residential blocks in the Bisley prison are still without in-cell sanitation or wash basins.
  • Prisoners needing to use the lavatory at night must press a bell and wait in a queue to use the toilets on the landing. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the infection risks inherent in this situation.
  • The Monitoring Board has been informed that major projects are planned to update these outmoded and inhumane conditions, with work beginning next summer.

They further note that:

  • While staff play a significant role in supporting prisoners with addiction problems, there are still too many illicit items including drugs and mobile phones coming into the prison.
  • The availability of drugs and phones gives rise to increased levels of bullying amongst prisoners.



  • The Covid-19 pandemic was well-handled, with only one prisoner requiring hospitalisation as a result of contracting the disease. All three prisoners diagnosed with COVID-19, out of a population in excess of 400, recovered well.
  • A newly created wing consisting of 60 portacabins was brought in to ensure that prisoners of good behaviour and those waiting to be transferred to open prisons could be accommodated in single cells during the pandemic. These cabins have internal showers, toilets and wash basins.

IMB Coldingley Chair, Heather Cook, said:

“IMB members are volunteers and are independent of the prison authorities. Staff at HMP Coldingley make strenuous efforts to keep prisoners safe and to support the more vulnerable, but it is depressing for prisoners and for staff to still be faced with the lack of decent conditions. The four older wings have been brightened up, but changes are mainly cosmetic and the fundamental problem of the lack of in-cell sanitation means that ‘slopping out’ is still a feature of life here – in 2020! We look forward to these grim and outmoded practices becoming a thing of the past.”

The full report is published on

For further information please contact: Heather Cook,, 01483 740815.

Information for Editors:

Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) monitor fairness and respect for people in custody to confirm it is fair, just and humane. IMBs are made up of independent public appointees and operate in every prison and Immigration Removal Centre. For more information about IMBs see