Bristol

Bristol Prison: 'Lack of care' highlighted by chief inspector

HMP Bristol Image copyright PA
Image caption HMP Bristol can hold 614 prisoners, mainly adult men and some young offenders

The "lack of care" shown to "the many vulnerable" inmates at Bristol Prison has been highlighted in a report by the chief inspector of prisons.

Peter Clarke from HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said levels of self-harm had "risen quite dramatically" and a crisis hotline had not been monitored.

Inspectors visited the jail last week and gave it the lowest grading possible for safety and purposeful activity.

The Ministry of Justice said the findings made "very difficult reading".

Inspectors identified "numerous significant concerns about the treatment and conditions of prisoners", resulting in an "urgent notification" being issued to Justice Secretary David Gauke.

It will be the fifth jail to be subject to the notification process since it was introduced in November 2017.

'Unanswered voicemails'

Mr Clarke said: "Things such as the crisis hotline, where relatives and friends of prisoners can ring in with concerns if they have them, that simply wasn't being monitored by the prison.

"When the inspectors asked what was on it, they found that there were 21 unanswered voicemails. So that sort of lack of care was very concerning indeed."

He also said violence in Bristol was "among the worst in what we call local prisons", though he did say the prison was trying to address this but it "hadn't had any impact yet".

Mr Clarke said HMIP had made 11 safety recommendations after the previous inspection "and only one has been implemented".

He said a "good start" for the prison would be to "start taking prison inspections seriously".

Prisons minister Robert Buckland said it was "clear that much more work is needed".

He said: "We have immediately addressed the issues around prisoner phone support lines to make sure those problems can never happen again, and will publish an action plan within 28 days to reduce violence and self-harm and help turn the prison around."

The Category B prison currently holds about 520 prisoners.

The previous prisons to have received an urgent notification letter are Bedford, Birmingham, Exeter and Nottingham.

Under the procedure, the Justice Secretary has to publish an action plan to bring about immediate improvements.

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