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  1. ITV Report

Liverpool prison praised for "dramatic improvements" two years after critical inspection

A prison branded as having some of the worst conditions ever seen by inspectors has been praised for making dramatic improvements.

In 2017 HMP Liverpool was the subject of one of the most critical inspection reports in years by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which found there was an "abject failure" to provide suitable conditions.

Better known as Walton prison, the category B jail built in 1855 holds around 700 inmates.

It was found to be ridden with litter, dirt, rats and cockroaches, with problems with violence and drugs.

Conditions were so poor, foreign judges feared it would be inhumane to send suspects back to the UK if there was a risk they would be held at HMP Liverpool.

Later it emerged drones were being seized at a rate of more than one a week at the prison.

In 2017 the prison an inspection found an Credit: HMIP

The findings of the previous inspection prompted an unprecedented investigation by MPs who warned the conditions were symptomatic of the wider failings in prisons across the country.

A new governor was drafted in, the number of inmates was cut by around 500 and a wave of refurbishment begun.

The report says there are Credit: ITV News

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said the impact of such measures has been "dramatic" and the rise in standards from the lowest to highest ratings in two years was a "remarkable achievement" but much still needed to be done.

The largely positive report on the inspection in August and September did raise concerns about a small rise in levels of violence - some of which was serious - and there were "still too many drugs entering the prison".

Mr Clarke said the "squalor and filth" had gone and there was now a "culture of care" with a "real change in the quality of leadership".

That transformation has been led by Pia Sinha, who was tasked with turning the fortunes of the jail around when she was appointed governor in the wake of the 2017 inspection.

Ms Sinha said: “People have worked really, really hard over the last two years and I think for them to get this recognition from HMIP, the very group that gave them the poor report last time, is a major boost and it makes us feel what we have been working towards has been worth it.”

Ms Sinha accepted work still needed to be done, particularly regarding violence and drugs.

Pia Sinha, governor of HMP Liverpool. Credit: MEN Media

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the "very encouraging report" also contained "crucial messages" for the Justice Secretary.

He said: "With 500 fewer prisoners in the prison and dilapidated accommodation taken out of use, the leadership team have been given a fair chance to make a difference.

"Every prison deserves the same opportunity, and it is only ministers who can deliver it."

Phil Copple, the Director General for prisons at HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), said: "The turnaround at HMP Liverpool is an impressive achievement for the prison's staff and senior leaders and I'm glad that their progress has now been recognised by the chief inspector in such positive terms.

"I'm confident that the prison's progress will continue."