1. ITV Report

UK Prison Chief Inspector: Swansea jail 'the worst I’ve seen anywhere'

The Chief Inspector of Prisons has laid bare his concerns about overcrowding, safety and drug use in Welsh jails.

Peter Clarke told MPs of how there had been 'some deterioration' in the quality of prisons and said HMP Swansea had failed to make recommended improvements.

Describing its response as 'particularly poor', he said: 'I think it was probably the worst I’ve seen anywhere.'

Mr Clarke also warned of 'slight deterioration' at HMP Cardiff and HM Prison Parc in Bridgend.

All three prisons suffered from overcrowding but he said Swansea was the 'most extreme'.

Figures for December show that the prisons had more inmates than the 'certified normal accommodation' (CNA) levels.

  • Swansea has a baseline CNA of 268 inmates but housed 411.
  • Cardiff had 706 inmates instead of 539.
  • Parc Prison had 1,736 despite a normal level of 1,559.

Speaking to the Welsh Affairs committee, Mr Clarke made the case that poor conditions make it more likely people will use drugs.

If people are confined in their cells for inordinate lengths of time, what do they do to pass the time?

Sadly, all too often, they turn to drugs, and that’s certainly an issue at Swansea where 40% of the prisoners there told us that it was easy or very easy to get drugs...

Seventeen percent of prisoners at Swansea told us that they had actually acquired a drug habit since being in the prison.

So, that gives an indication of the sorts of things that people will turn to when conditions are poor.”

– Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons

A Prison Service spokesman said the prison continues to work to 'implement the recommendations of the Inspectorate'.

HMP Swansea has taken significant steps to improve safety and reduce self-harm and substance misuse, including through new educational and support mechanisms which use family relationships to assist in changing behaviours.

A new senior operational manager has also been recruited to focus on safety, and enhanced suicide and self-harm prevention training is being given to staff to increase support for vulnerable prisoners.

We know more must be done though, and the prison continues to work to implement the recommendations of the Inspectorate.

– Prison Service spokesman