HM Prison Dartmoor is 'not sustainable, humane, fair or safe’ report finds

A recent inspection has found Dartmoor prison is not fit for purpose.  Credit: PA

A recent inspection has found Dartmoor's prison is not fit for purpose.

The Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) carried out an inspection of HMP Dartmoor between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023.

During that time, the prison had to take in an additional 49 prisoners. To accommodate numbers, inmates were doubled up in cells. 

The report said that the decision to take on these extra prisoners meant HMP Dartmoor scored poorly when it came to ‘Living Space per Prisoner in Prison Establishment’ standards.

The inspection found prisoners were already in 'cramped pre-Victorian aged cells', before this. 

The report said: “The IMB considers, under the guise of ‘sustainable overcrowding’, it is neither sustainable, humane, fair or safe and has, arguably, made HMP Dartmoor not fit for purpose.”

The prison has done poorly in a recent inspection. Credit: PA

The investigation also found that the increase in population didn’t result in support services - healthcare, education, training, industries staff - increasing at all, meaning all prisoners were negatively impacted.

It found the majority of prisoners don’t have purposeful activities to do, which means they’re being kept in their cells for long periods of the day. 

Something raised in a previous inspection, and something raised again this time as a “particular concern” was the lack of investment to make sure the prisoners get an “adequate experience”. 

This includes employment and rehabilitation activities. 

In response to the outcome, a prison service spokesperson said: “HMP Dartmoor is taking action to address the concerns raised in this report including recruiting more staff and boosting access to education programmes so prisoners can get the skills they need to turn their backs on crime.

"Cells are only doubled up where it is safe to do so.”