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East of England Liberal Democrats

Mayor Dave: Government Must Finally Take Effective Action as Shocking Details of Bedford Prison Disorder Are Revealed

September 14, 2018 5:18 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Mayor Dave Hodgson has echoed the Chief Inspector of Prisons' call for the Government to take 'immediate and decisive action' to improve the situation at Bedford Prison after an inspection revealed more shocking details of disorder and an absence of control. The extraordinary findings come after the Government took the prison into special measures back in May. The Chief Inspector of Prisons has issued an 'Urgent Notification', giving the Government 28 days to respond with the measures it will take to improve matters at the facility.

In a post this afternoon on his Facebook page with which he posted a link to the BBC coverage of the story available here, Mayor Dave wrote:

"This is a scandal happening on the government's watch, right in the heart of Bedford. There have been repeated warnings from inspections over several years about the situation at Bedford Prison, not to mention the riot less than two years ago. The government placed the prison in special measures in May, but it has clearly failed comprehensively to bring it under control and improve conditions.

Now, the extraordinary findings of a recent inspection has caused the Chief Inspector of Prisons to write to the Justice Secretary insisting that the government takes 'immediate and decisive action' to improve matters under a formal process known as 'Urgent Noticification.'

Incredibly, he writes that "at times it felt as if prisoners were effectively in control". He states that more needs to be done about the 'ready availability of drugs,' which are helping to fuel the high levels of violence. He also describes "dirty and decrepit showers" in a prison which is "still infested with rats and cockroaches."

It shouldn't need the Inspectorate to try to force the government to act, and decisive action should have been taken years ago.

However, with evidence of the sheer scale of violence, drugs and large-scale lack of control and lack of safety laid out so starkly, the government MUST finally take measures to make the prison safe. The letter is available here, and is truly jaw-dropping in the absence of safety and control it describes.

Under the Urgent Notification process, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has given the government 28 days to come up with its plan to improve outcomes in 'both the immediate and longer term'. Action really must be immediate, because the dreadful situation at the prison, in the middle of Bedford, has been allowed to spiral out of control."