Wandsworth Prison ranked "least safe" in country by jail inspector
11:20am Tuesday 30th October 2012 in Top Stories
Wandsworth Prison has been branded the most "unsafe" in the country for inmates following a scathing report by the country's chief jail inspector.
The 161-year-old facility, which holds 1,665 prisoners, is accused of failures such as poor treatment by staff, victimisation of Muslim inmates, telephone inaccessibility, empty workshops and a lack of satisfactory alcohol treatment.
The prison, Britain's biggest and one of the largest in Europe, received the lowest possible rating for safety in chief inspector Nick Hardwick's annual review.
In the damning report, Mr Hardwick said: "Of the 46 establishments holding adult males which we inspected in 2011-12, the outcomes for prisoners in relation to safety were good at five prisons, reasonably good at 22 and not sufficiently good at seven.
"Wandsworth was the only prison where we judged that safety outcomes were poor and where none of the elements that contribute to a safe prison were in place."
More than half of prisoners surveyed said they could not shower every day and had problems accessing telephones - many said they had to choose between the two.
Muslim prisoners reported "overwhelmingly negative" experiences, with 60 per cent saying they had been victimised by staff, By contarst, a survey of non-Muslim prisoners found 31 per cent felt victimised by staff.
Mr Hardwick added: "During our inspection of Wandsworth we were at times overwhelmed by the number of prisoners who wanted to complain to us about poor treatment by officers.
"We were concerned that in a small number of prisons, including Wandsworth, procedures for assessing vulnerability were weak and first night procedures and induction were not sufficiently supportive for new arrivals, particularly those with no previous experience of prison.
"There was also evidence of a significant number of violent and antisocial incidents as well as under-reporting of incidents."
Workshops at the prison, offering training in plastering, plumbing, motorcycle maintenance and bricklaying, were almost empty despite former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's pledge in 2010 that prisoners would be required to do a full week of "routine hard work".
Finally, despite the presence of the specialist alcohol Kearney Unit, the report states the prison provides "relatively little support" to treat abuse.
A spokeswoman for HMP Wandsworth said: "HMP Wandsworth put a robust action plan in place following recommendations in the 2011 Chief Inspector's report on the prison a year ago and as a result made significant improvements to the regime.
"The prison is working hard to improve the relationship between prisoners and staff and is increasing work provision in the workshops."
However, Mr Hardwick found that of 189 recommendations made for Wandsworth Prison in last year's annual report, 92 had yet to be achieved.