Prisons and probation: Inspector condemns Long Lartin ‘cages’ and ‘slopping out’

Prisons and probation: Inspector condemns Long Lartin ‘cages’ and ‘slopping out’

A prison inspector has condemned conditions at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire, which holds some of the UK’s most dangerous prisoners.

In his report he describes some facilities at the prison as “not fit for purpose” and went on to say that the use of those facilities is “unacceptable”. In an overall assessment, however, he described overall conditions as “reasonable”.

The main criticisms are levelled at exercise facilities, which are created by two cages, and used for segregated inmates. The report also criticises the practice of ‘slopping out’ which is still used at the prison, despite the fact that it was abolished in the UK in 1996.

This finding has been disputed by Michael Spurr, the chief executive of the national offender management service, who heads the prison service.

He claims that prisoners elect to use a bucket in their cell at night instead of queuing for up to two hours to use the toilet. The buckets are then emptied in the morning before breakfast.

“Whatever the official title is, this was slopping out,” said the report.

The report commends the prison for successfully holding some of the most challenging prisoners in the UK. In the past the prison has housed Jeremy Bamber, serving life without the possibility of parole for the murder of his family in 1985, and Abu Qatada, a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist.

However, the inspector said there remains significant concerns about the institution.

The report says that most of the 611 prisoners felt safe and there were relatively few violent incidents, although those that did occur were generally serious in nature.

More than half the prison population at Long Lartin are serving life sentences. However, those on vulnerable prisoner wings said they rarely felt safe. Those on suicide watch were kept in a segregation unit with a limited regime, “uninterested staff” and “grim” exercise facilities.

The report said that more needed to be done to help work successfully with the prison’s Muslim inmates, who account for around 25% of the total population.

“Some aspects of the prison, such as healthcare, are very good,” said the report, “but other aspects are unacceptably poor.”

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Guardian)

Prison procedures and prisoners’ rights (FindLaw)

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