1. ITV Report

Report finds conditions in prisons in Wales are worse than those in England

New research shows the conditions in prisons in Wales are worse than those in England, with more incidents of violence and self-harm, according to a Cardiff University report.

Credit: PA

The report found prison safety is also worse in Wales.

HMP Parc recorded the highest number of disturbances in 2016/17 than anywhere else in the UK.

The report also found:

  • Despite an increase in prison capacity in Wales, 39% of all Welsh prisoners were being held in English prisons in 2017. In a large number of cases, Welsh prisoners are placed in establishments far away from home; Welsh prisoners were held in 108 different prisons in 2017.
  • The number of Welsh women handed immediate custodial sentences has increased by almost a fifth since 2011. The majority of Welsh women sentenced to immediate custody have been convicted of non-violent offences. Three quarters of all Welsh women receiving immediate custodial sentences in 2016 were given sentences of less than 6 months; this rate is higher than the England and Wales total.
  • The number of Welsh children in custody has fallen by 72% since 2010. 45% of all Welsh children in custody were being held in establishments in England during 2017. The distances facing children in prison have been shown to reduce the number of family visits, hinder 'through the gate' support services, and increase the sense of alienation and isolation that children experience in prison.

The aim of this report is to make Wales-only imprisonment data accessible to a wide audience for the first time.

With a particular focus upon prison safety, it provides the most up-to-date information on a range of challenges facing prisons in Wales and also Welsh prisoners being held in England.

Above all, Imprisonment in Wales offers a statistical overview of the prisons system at a time when both Welsh and UK Governments are working to improve justice policy in the country.

This comprehensive overview could only be generated at considerable effort, including through using the Freedom of Information Act.

More regular and transparent Welsh data will be required if the public and politicians are to be able to better scrutinise how well the system is working.

– Dr Robert Jones, report author

In a statement, the Department of Justice said they are "taking urgent action" to address self-harm in prisons and they have recruited 3,000 new officers in the last 18 months.

The Justice Secretary has been clear that the levels of self-harm in our prisons are too high which is why we are taking urgent action to address this problem.

We have recruited over 3,000 new prison officers across the country in the last 18 months to improve safety and help turn offenders’ lives around.

Closeness to home is considered when choosing where to place prisoners but we must also look at the length of sentence, crime committed and prison capacity.

– Prison Service spokesperson