Inspection of HMP Bedford

 The prison was given full inspection in January/February 2022.  In their report the inspectors said:

In 2018, the introduction to the HMP Bedford inspection report described a prison on a “seemingly inexorable decline that is evident through the results of the four inspections carried out since 2009.” At that time, the healthy prison tests scores were amongst the lowest ever awarded by the Inspectorate and my predecessor invoked the Urgent Notification process.

We returned to inspect the prison in February 2022 and I am pleased to report that the decline had been arrested and real progress had been made against our tests, with a one-point increase in each.

Huge credit for this transformation must go to the governor, who took over a prison that was dangerous, understaffed and dilapidated. Over the last three years he had developed a vision for the prison, alongside clear plans for improvement that he and his team had pursued relentlessly.

The prison’s self-assessment report showed that leaders maintained an accurate understanding of the state of the prison and that they had priorities in place supported by refreshingly clear plans, targets, and measures of progress. These priorities were communicated and understood by staff on the wing and by prisoners.

The culture of the prison had considerably improved even since the scrutiny visit we conducted in March 2021. There was a focus on consistency in the way officers interacted with prisoners and we saw many skilled officers doing an excellent job. There remained a small minority of staff members whose attitude to prisoners brought down standards in the prison. Recruitment and retention were an ongoing challenge and leaders were actively seeking ways to support officers in their first year in post. Staff shortages continued to affect the running of the jail and the situation had become acute during a recent COVID-19 outbreak.

The under-25 population was overrepresented in statistics concerning negative behaviour and violence. As a result, leaders decided to create a specific wing with a bespoke regime aimed at settling and supporting younger prisoners. It will be interesting to see the effect of this initiative during future visits.

Leaders had also sought to improve the experience of treatment for the large minority of black, Asian and minority ethnic prisoners, including by being more transparent about the way that work is allocated and making a concerted effort to deal more sensitively with discrimination incident reporting forms.

Conditions in the jail continued to be unacceptable, particularly on A and B wings where most prisoners shared shabby, cramped cells designed for one person, although improvements to showers were welcomed by prisoners.

Despite the considerable progress we saw at Bedford, the levels of violence in the jail remained some of the highest in the country and, although there were welcome signs in our survey to suggest that prisoners felt safer than in 2018, these were not yet reflected in the data on assaults on prisoners or staff. A determined attempt to reduce the use of force had been successful, but it was unacceptable that many officers still did not routinely turn on their body-worn cameras.

The governor and his team should be proud of their achievements at HMP Bedford. There had been excellent progress, although outcomes for prisoners were not yet good enough in any of our healthy prison tests. Provided that the prison can retain the many effective staff members and the strong leadership team, there is good reason to believe that further, substantial improvements can be made, particularly in reducing violence and improving living conditions.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
April 2022

 Return to Bedford

The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:

You don't always get what you are entitled to unless you ask properly!

We can introduce you to  experienced  lawyers can help you with parole,  probation,  immigration, adjudications, visits and any other complaints  and disputes you have with the Prison Service.

The solicitors are all experts on how the Prison Service/Criminal Law  system works and will be able to provide to you the necessary advice and support to ensure you or your loved ones are treated fairly. These lawyers are "small enough to care about you, but big enough to fight for you"

and remember the old saying:

" A Man Who Is His Own Lawyer Has A Fool for a Client"

Click here to go to the list of lawyers in your area