Wandsworth prison needs ‘urgent improvement’, watchdog warns – The Irish News

A watchdog has called for Wandsworth prison to be put into emergency measures amid concerns over failings in security and severe problems with overcrowding, drugs, violence and self-harm.

Chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor wrote to Justice Secretary Alex Chalk to issue an urgent notification for improvement at the category B jail in south west London after “deeply concerning” inspection findings.

Mr Taylor said: “The poor outcomes we found at Wandsworth are systemic and cultural failures and stemmed from poor leadership at every level of the prison, from HMPPS and the Ministry of Justice.

“Many well-meaning and hard-working leaders and staff persevered at Wandsworth, and their resilience was impressive, but they were often fighting against a tide of cross-cutting, intractable problems that require comprehensive, long-term solutions.

“For this troubled prison to begin to recover, Wandsworth needs permanent experienced leaders at all levels who are invested in its long-term future to improve security, safety and guide their less experienced colleagues.

“Until this happens, the risk of a further catastrophe, a self-inflicted death or escape from lawful custody, is ever present.”

Prisons minister Edward Argar said the “deeply concerning report” shows the jail continues to face “significant challenges” and it was “clear that on top of the additional support we’ve already provided since September to improve safety and security, including nearly £1 million of upgrades, we need to go further still.”

Extra experienced staff will be added to the prison’s management team in the coming weeks to provide the “leadership, culture change and training needed to turn Wandsworth around”, he said, adding: “In the interim we are deploying more staff, including prison officers , to the prison and will set out further action shortly.”

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