Nick Hardwick has published his fifth and final annual report as Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Mr. Hardwick reflects on the last five years, and draws attention to increasing violence, poor prison performance, overcrowding and staffing, and purposeful activity.
He says: “Three broad themes emerge from this report and review – not just of the last year but of the five years since I was appointed.
First, the increased vulnerability of those held across the range of establishments we inspect and the challenge establishments have in meeting these individuals’ needs. Too often locking someone up out of sight provides a short-term solution, but fails to provide the long-term answers more effective multi-agency community solutions would provide.
Second, there is a real need to match the demand for custodial services to the resources available. Detention is one of the public services where demand can be managed. Alternatives to the use of custody may be unpalatable but so, no doubt, are the other public expenditure choices that government has to make.
Third, the case for the independent inspection of custody remains as strong as ever and that independence needs to be preserved. I hope this report will assist Ministers and Parliament with the decisions they now have to make.”