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Prisoners at risk, says watchdog

Local prisons are “full to bursting point”, where too little space and too few staff increase prisoner rates of suicide and reoffending, a watchdog reports.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity that aids families of deceased inmates, said she is “extremely worried” about understaffed and overcapacity prisons, and says they increase rates of suicide, homicide and reoffending among inmates.

She says the staff shortages leads to “23-hour lock-ups” where prisoners aren’t supported with issues, and lack access to training and education facilities.

Deborah says this is a “social justice issue, and not a criminal one”, and that better supporting communities would reduce prison sentences for people suffering addiction, mental health and homelessness issues.

At Winchester prison, an inmate recently committed suicide after warning staff of his intentions to do so. The prison has failed a number of key inspections, been historically overcapacity, and coroner Karen Harold recently had “grave concerns about the risk of future deaths” there.

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