‘Crumbling, overcrowded, vermin-infested’ London prison where ‘inmates hadn’t been outside in a week’

A surprise inspection of Wandsworth Prison found it to be “crumbling, overcrowded and vermin-infested” with inmates failing to receive ‘the most basic regime’.

Rat faeces were found in the living accommodation and offices while there is also a ‘major problem’ with mice and pigeons.

Prisoners are often forced to choose between exercise, ordering from the kiosk or having a shower as there are not enough to make sure prisoners met their basic needs.

READ MORE: London prison so bad that inmates hardly leave their cells and eat out of tin foil

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, conducted the unannounced inspection of the 1,360 capacity prison in September.

In his damning report, Mr Taylor wrote: “One group of prisoners from Trinity Unit, who came blinking into the sunlight, told me that it was the first time they had been outside for more than a week.”

HMP Wandsworth is one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country

The inspection found that over half of the inmates had felt unsafe at some point during their stay and violence was increasing, with a high number of assaults against staff.

The capacity of the prison was recently reduced by 300 to its current total of 1,360, but it remains one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country with most prisoners sharing a cell built for one.

The Government plans to allow the number of prisoners to increase in April but Mr Taylor warned this would jeopardise the ‘limited progress’ the staff had managed to bring.

Since the previous inspection in 2018, there had been nine suicides and two drug-related deaths in the prison.

In total there are 967 prisoners receiving support for substance misuse and 531 referred for mental health assessments each month.

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The mental health inpatient unit was deemed ‘unacceptable’ and inmates continued to wait ‘far too long’ to access the care services.

It was also noted that there is an ‘ingrained negative culture, including sexism and racism, among some staff’.

Mr Taylor warned: “Leaders in this crumbling, overcrowded, vermin-infested prison will need considerable ongoing support from the prison service, notably with the recruitment and retention of staff, improving the infrastructure of the jail and making sure that external agencies such as the Home Office and the education provider pull their weight.

“It is hard to see how HMP Wandsworth’s limited progress can be sustained if prisoner numbers in this jail are allowed to increase as they are scheduled to do next April.”

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