Penal reform group calls for changes at failing Lindholme Prison

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform

A leading prison reform group has described the situation at Doncaster’s troubled Lindholme jail as ‘deeply disturbing’.

A damning inspection report released yesterday dubbed the Category C jail, which houses 1,000 inmates, as one of Britain’s worst prisons.

Nick Hardwick, the Government’s chief inspector of prisons, hit out at Lindholme, describing it as a ‘forgotten and neglected’ place where prisoners were ‘frightened’ and where drugs and alcohol were rife.

Now the Howard League for Penal Reform has stepped into the row and called on the Government to rethink its policy towards jails.

Chief executive Frances Crook said: “This is the latest in a series of damning reports published by the prisons watchdog in recent weeks, following scathing inspections of other establishments. It is deeply disturbing that conditions appear to be getting worse and worse at prisons across the country.

“Prisoners at Lindholme feel in danger. Many have been victimised and bullied. There are signs of racial tension. And yet little has been done to address the prison’s underlying safety issues.

“This is supposed to be a training prison, a place where inmates are given the skills they need to prepare for life in the world outside. But prisoners on the Category D wing had nothing to do. The classrooms were empty and abandoned. The public deserve better than to have prisoners lying idle in their beds for up to 22 hours a day.

“This report shows in sharp detail why it makes no sense to build large jails. The Government should focus on reducing the prison population instead.”

Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan said: “This is a shocking report. Just about everything that could possibly go wrong in a prison was uncovered by this inspection.

The Category D wing at Lindholme has since been closed and governor Marian Mahoney has already taken action to address the main weaknesses identified in the report.