Beds, Herts & Bucks

Warning letter submitted about Bedford Prison conditions

Bedford Prison Image copyright Google
Image caption Category B HMP Bedford holds more than 500 male prisoners

An official warning about conditions at Bedford Prison has been submitted to the justice secretary, the BBC understands.

It is the fourth jail to be subject to the "urgent notification" process after Nottingham, Exeter and Birmingham.

In May the publicly-run prison was placed in "special measures" by the government because of safety concerns.

Chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke is understood to have sent a letter to Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The Ministry of Justice has been asked to comment.

The letter triggers a process which means Mr Gauke will have to publish a response and plan of action for the prison within 28 days, as well as a longer-term plan for sustained improvement.

Image caption In November 2016 a riot caused £1m worth of damage to two wings at the prison

The letter, detailing conditions inspectors found at the jail, is expected to be published on Thursday.

The Category B prison holds more than 500 male prisoners, although capacity is thought to be about 320.

It has been dogged by controversy, including attacks on staff, while a riot in November 2016 caused £1m of damage to two wings.

A report by the Independent Monitoring Board also revealed the government had been warned of "an alarming decline in safety" at Bedford two months before the 2016 disturbance.

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