The country’s most senior prison inspector has demanded the Justice Secretary take action over the squalid and dangerous conditions at HMP Bristol.
Peter Clarke invoked a rarely-used protocol forcing David Gauke to respond publicly after inspectors found high levels of violence, filthy cells and poor training and education.
Mr Clarke warned the Justice Secretary that the category B men’s prison had not improved at all despite being placed in special measures after a worrying inspection in 2017.
In the letter, Mr Clarke said inspectors had found rates of self-harm had increased since 2017 and remained higher than most local prisons.
Despite two suicides since the last inspection, recommendations for improvements had not been implemented and inspectors saw instances of “very poor” care of at-risk prisoners.
Inspectors also found the prison to be dirty, with many of the 600-plus inmates living in overcrowded cells.
Recorded levels of violence, a lot of it serious, were found to have increased since the 2017 inspection, and was much higher than average for local prisons.
Nearly two thirds of prisoners said they had felt unsafe at some point while held in HMP Bristol, and over a third said the currently felt unsafe.
A hotline for family and friends of prisoners in crisis to report their concerns had not been checked for over two weeks before the inspections, Mr Clarke said.
It was found the prison had enough activity places for all prisoners to take part in education, training or work for at least part of the day, but only half of prisoners had been allocated an activity.
Of these, on average only half attended their activity.
Under the terms of the urgent notification protocol, within a month the justice secretary must come up with a plan to improve the prison.
Naiidine Watts told ITV News about the conditions her late father faced in HMP Bristol while serving time for a GBH charge.
She said he had no running water in his cell, and had to resort to toilet water for drinking and washing.
The Government say they are worried about the conditions at HMP Bristol, but that extra support is being provided.