Howard League responds to Werrington prison inspection report

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate  of Prisons’ report on Werrington children’s prison, published today (Friday 20 May). 

Inspectors visited the prison, which holds boys under the age of 18, in January and February and found violence – and use of force – at levels higher than at any other  prison in England and Wales. During the six months prior to the inspection, more  than 30 children had been taken to hospital following assaults. 

More than 400 weapons had been found in the 12 months before the inspection.  Children explained that they carried weapons because they were not confident that  staff could keep them safe. 

Andrea Coomber, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform,  said: “This is one of the most horrifying inspection reports that the Howard League  has seen. It is a 69-page document of failure that could be summarised in just seven  words: prison is no place for a child. 

“Instead of being kept safe, boys as young as 15 are living in fear from violence and  abuse in Werrington – and the prison’s response has made matters worse. 

“Rather than solving problems, staff have relied on trying to keep children apart. It  does not appear to have made the jail any less toxic, and the boys have been denied  access to education that might help to guide them away from crime. 

“Werrington was barely half-full when the inspectors arrived and, even then, the children were in danger. It is time for ministers to act. Look at the evidence, keep  children out of prisons, and ensure that boys and girls in trouble receive the care and  support they need.”