No prison in England and Wales safe for young people


No prison in England and Wales safe for young people

Peter Reydt

1 August 2017

“By February 2017, we concluded that there was not a single establishment that we inspected in England and Wales in which it was safe to hold children and young people.”

This is the shocking conclusion made by Peter Clarke, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales in his Annual Report 2016–17.

The report shows a drastic decline in conditions within the prison system. Describing conditions comparable to those in the United States, it details how working class criminals are incarcerated in “filthy and dilapidated”, vermin infested, overcrowded and violent “facilities” for sometimes the most minimal offences.

Decades of law and order policies by Labour and Conservative governments have made prisons a breeding ground for substance abuse, violence, illness, suicide and squalor.

More young people in England and Wales are imprisoned than in any other country in Western Europe. The age of criminal responsibility in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is just 10 years old, and in Scotland it is 8 years old.

The state of prisons for children and young inmates is especially bad. Vulnerable working class children endure conditions that cannot but traumatise them further. Any pretense of rehabilitation has long been discarded. The guiding principle is to control and punish young offenders, who are already victims of a society based on savage inequality.

Clarke’s report paints a harrowing picture of the state of prisons in England and Wales, showing what life is like for prisoners on a day-to-day basis.

“There have been startling increases in all types of violence” the report finds. In the 12 months to December 2016, there were 26,000 assaults, up by 27 percent in…

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