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A staffing crisis and crumbling Victorian buildings are at the heart of HMP Wandsworth’s problems

In its 2021/22 annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Wandsworth highlights the negative impact on prisoners of staff shortages and wholly inadequate physical conditions on the wellbeing of prisoners. The Board commends senior managers for their hard work and care for prisoners under such conditions, in spite of the fact that very few of the improvements promised by successive ministers have materialised.

The Board notes that:

Significant staffing problems are adversely affecting the delivery of a consistent regime. Although technically fully staffed, over 30 percent of staff are non-operational on a regular basis, for a number of reasons, rising sometimes to over 40 per cent

  • With an increasing number of more volatile young prisoners , and incidents of violence at alarming levels, the recruitment, training and retention of appropriately skilled and well-motivated staff is essential. The Board is very concerned that this is not happening
  • Yet again, the conditions which prisoners are confined, often two to a cramped cell, are inhumane and degrading. The totally inadequate shower facilities are of particular concern and vermin continue to be a major problem. The situation will only improve when there are radical, rather than merely cosmetic, improvements to the crumbling Victorian buildings
  • The mental health of the prisoners, with over 500 referrals a month, continues to concern the Board greatly.

The Wandsworth IMB Chair, Tim Aikens, said:

‘The Board is once again expressing its concern about conditions in HMP Wandsworth, whose Victorian buildings are long overdue significant investment. With depleted staff numbers, degrading living conditions and high levels of mental health need, the increasing level of violence is both unsurprising and deeply worrying.’