The other prison pandemic; a mental health crisis

There are currently close to 80,000 people in prisons and young offenders institutes across England and Wales. By the Ministry of Justice’s own estimations, the prison estate should not hold more than around 74,000 people. 

In 2017-18, 81 of the 120 prisons in England and Wales were overcrowded, and almost a quarter of the prison population were living in overcrowded accommodation – meaning that inmates must double up in cells designed for one. Meanwhile the number of frontline prison staff was cut by 26 per cent between 2010 and 2017.

With so many people in prison requiring care, and so few staff on hand to administer it, inmates are slipping through the cracks. According to the Association for Members of Independent Boards, inmates at HMP Holme House, near Middlesborough, can be forced to wait as long as 12 weeks to see a GP. 

One prison officer who works at Wandsworth, and wished to remain anonymous, said that the majority of her colleagues are caring and compassionate, but a small number are “just c*nts”. It’s not uncommon, she said, to hear fellow officers describe prisoners who have tried and failed to hang themselves as “bad swingers”.

thelondoneconomic The other prison pandemic