Data analysis: Report into conditions at HMP Aylesbury

HMP Aylesbury
HMP Aylesbury

45 recommendations to improve Aylesbury prison have not been acted on, according to the latest report into conditions there.

The official report, published by the Inspectorate of Prisons on August 17, shows that, of the 75 recommendations made in the last report, only 14 had been achieved.

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The report condemned the lack of progress made since the inspectorates last visit. It said: “At the last inspection of Aylesbury in 2015, we commented on debilitating staff shortages which had negative consequences for prisoners.

“It is disappointing to report that at this inspection little progress had been made.”

Aylesbury imposed the most additional time onto prisoners sentences of any prison last year, with 12,000 added days dished out, according to research by the Howard league of Penal Reform.

This is a 40% increase on the 8,413 additional days distributed in 2015. The average number of additional days for all prisons that year was just 1,470.

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The inspection records 391 assaults, 76 of which were on members of staff, and 370 incidents of self-injury in the last year.

In a letter to David Lidington published on her blog, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform Frances Crook called for the justice secretary to deliver a firm plan of action.

She said: “Aylesbury is a violent prison. The lack of activity and low morale amongst the too few staff means that teenagers and young adults are frustrated, angry and embittered.

“Young men in Aylesbury deserve a chance at living crime-free on release, but the present situation in Aylesbury prison removes any hope of this.”

Crook said: “The Howard League receives more calls about problems in Aylesbury than any other prison in the country. Now the wider world can see why.

“This is a report so shocking that, in normal circumstances, the constituency MP would be making a fuss about it in the House of Commons. On this occasion, the constituency MP is also the Secretary of State for Justice and therefore uniquely positioned to do something about it. It is time for action.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of HM Prison & Probation Service, said: “Improving safety and addressing ongoing staffing challenges remain the Governor’s top priorities.

“This is why additional staff are now being deployed to Aylesbury from other establishments to provide a consistent regime for prisoners and there are firm plans in place to fill vacancies through permanent recruitment.

“A Violence Reduction Plan is being actioned and the Governor will receive the support she needs to improve the performance of the YOI over the next 12 months”.

Commenting on the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons published this week, Aylesbury MP and Justice Secretary David Lidington, said: "Aylesbury YOI holds many of the most difficult young prisoners in the country, most of whom have committed serious offences. We owe a debt of thanks to the YOI staff who work with great professionalism and dedication in such a challenging environment.

"When I visited the YOI last month, I heard directly from the deputy governor and prison officers about the challenges that they face in managing large numbers of volatile and potentially violent young men, and the efforts that they are making to enhance safety and make possible the opportunities for education and work that offer prisoners a better chance of holding down a legitimate job after release.

"Today's report is troubling. Sadly, the problems identified by the Inspectorate here are far from unique to Aylesbury. As Justice Secretary, I am determined that we should act to make prisons safer for staff and prisoners alike, and places of effective rehabilitation.

"One aspect of that work is for the Ministry of Justice to redouble its efforts to ensure that inspectors' reports are acted upon. I have established a new unit within the Department to do just that."

A copy of the full report, published on 17 August 2017, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons