Howard League responds to inspection reports on Brixton and The Mount

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ reports on Brixton and The Mount prisons, published today (Thursday 30 June).

Inspectors visited the prisons in March this year and found that most men were locked in their cells for 22 hours per day and more on weekends. Overall education provision was inadequate in both prisons.

Brixton, a Category C resettlement prison, was found to be in trouble, with severe overcrowding, cramped cells, rising violence and low staff morale. At the time of the inspection, it had room for 509 men but was being asked to hold 720. About one in three men released from the prison over the previous year were without recorded accommodation.

The Mount, a Category C training prison, was found to be safer than at the time of its last inspection in 2018, but continued failure to deliver work and activities was “completely undermining” its stated purpose as a training establishment. Inspectors pointed to staff shortages and noticed that a “significant percentage” of new officers had resigned within their first year.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “When someone is in trouble with the law, we should do all that we can to guide them away from crime. Locking them in a cell with nothing to do for hours on end is never going to help them turn their lives around.

“Brixton and The Mount are meant to be prisons that prepare people for life after release, but today’s reports reveal the gulf between this aspiration and the grim reality for those living behind bars.”