A DRUGS-ridden prison between Redditch and Bromsgrove has been described as ‘inhumane’ and ‘unfit for the 21st century’ by inspectors.
Prisoners with disabilities and mental health needs at HMP Hewell are said to be ‘poorly catered for’ and ‘kept in squalid conditions’.
More than 40 per cent of cells designed for single inmates at HMP Hewell are housing two.
Overcrowding, although a problem for many prisons in the UK, is understood to facilitate theft, violence and bullying at HMP Hewell.
These findings were published today in the Independent Monitoring Board’s (IMB) annual report and marks another chapter in the prison’s troublesome history.
As reported last year, the IMB remains concerned that the rapid turnover of the prison’s population (for example high numbers of men on remand) has a seriously disruptive and negative impact on preparation for release.
Holding public protection prisoners (those with no set date for release) in a category B prison is considered detrimental to their chances of progress towards a meaningful release and results in them being held in circumstances that are ‘unfair and inhumane’.
Drugs and mobile phones are still easily accessible to those behind bars.
There are numerous ways that prohibited items enter a prison, including via corrupt staff, visitors or being thrown over walls.
“Drones were considered a problem two years ago but I haven’t heard a case involving one in a while,” said IMB chair Rodger Lawrence.
“One thing to remember about our findings is that they were based on the period between October 2018 and September 2019.
“Improvements have been made since then. Especially with prison staff who now believe they can make a difference at HMP Hewell rather than thinking: ‘It’s bad and that’s just the way it is – there’s nothing I can do about it’.
“The largely inexperienced and often young staff are, on the whole, committed and motivated and often well-led, but are working in challenging and frequently unsafe circumstances.
“Overall we remain disappointed at the slow pace of improvements to the fabric of the establishment.”
According to the report, three prisoners died between 2018 and 2019.
A report was also published on open prison, HMP Hewell Grange, which is on the same site.
But Grange, also said to have poor conditions, will close for good on March 31.
Mr Lawrence added: “Myself and the board are glad that it is closing.
“It has suffered from overcrowding since the 1960s and sucked an enormous amount of money out of the government.
“All of the men have been moved and the equipment has been ripped out.”