Government Is Failing Duty Of Care To Prisoners Living In 'Unsafe And Unsanitary' Conditions, Say MPs

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The government is failing to fulfil its duty of care to prisoners, MPs have said in a new report 

The government is failing to care for people detained in England’s prisons, with too many prisoners living in “unsafe, unsanitary and outdated” conditions, MPs have discovered.

While violence and self-harm behind bars is at a “record high”, a quarter of prisoners have lived in overcrowded cells in the past two years, a report published by Parliament’s health and social care committee on Thursday revealed.

Meanwhile, a drastic drop in prison officer numbers in recent years – from almost 25,000 in 2010 to below 19,000 in 2017 – is limiting opportunities for prisoners to access health and care services, MPs said.

“A prison sentence is a deprivation of someone’s liberty – not a sentence to poorer health or healthcare,” said committee chair Sarah Wollaston, calling for care behind bars to “at least” match that given to the general public.

At present, prison conditions are “compounding a cycle of deprivation and health inequality”, the Tory MP added.

According to the report, poor health among prisoners has been exacerbated by the “increasingly widespread” use of psychoactive drugs, with the government and prison service “some way from having this under control”.

The results of the inquiry comes on the same day an inspection of HMP Wakefield revealed “unacceptable delays” at the prison in transferring inmates suffering from severe mental health problems to secure accommodation.

According to inspectors, the conditions they are held in before being transferred “clearly exacerbate” their illnesses. 

Gareth Copley – PA Images via Getty Images

A prison officer at HMP Wakefield 

As part of a series of recommendations designed to tackle conditions behind bars, MPs called for…

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