Winchester prison found to be "unfit for habitation"

Winchester prison has faced damning criticisms in its latest report by independent inspectors.

Parts of HMP Winchester were described as 'dungeon-like' with 'unacceptably high' levels of violence and drug use.

Staff are said to do their utmost to ensure prisoners are treated humanely and fairly.

Interview with Angus Somerville, Chair of HMP/YOI Winchester IMB

The annual review by the Independent Monitoring Board acknowledged positive changes have been made but also said the prison faces continuing pressure to deliver a safe and secure environment. The status of the prison had improving slightly, progressing from 'serious concern' to 'concern'.

The report also highlighted how Winchester prison had one of the highest rates of prisoners attacking each other in the country.

However, it did find prisoner assaults on staff had reduced, despite staff assaults still being higher than other prisons.

One of the concerns highlighted was the delay to building a new care and separation unit, which is a segment of the prison where some inmates are moved to be separate from the main wings of the prison.

Commenting on the fact that work had not yet started on building a replacement site, inspectors said "The failure to replace this inhumane facility is a disgrace."

The prison was praised for its approach in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report relates to the period between June 2019 to May 2020.