Headlines: July 7th, 1998

The Prisons Ombudsman has produced a damning annual report about management failure to tackle problems year on year.

Sir Peter Woodhead, the Prisons Ombudsman, said: “This is my third Annual Report and it is disappointing that I am continuing to deal with many of the same type of grievances as in previous years. I am still upholding almost half of the complaints I investigate and am increasingly concerned that the Prison Service does not seem to be learning from its past mistakes.”

He also pointed to continued concerns about the inadequacies of the Prison Service’s internal complaints system. He said one of the key lessons of the prison disturbances of 1990 was that prisoners needed to feel their grievances could be properly heard.

While praising the work of many prisons, and pointing up the generally positive relationships between staff and prisoners, Sir Peter highlighted a number of cases among the 2000 investigated that caused particular unease. In one case a woman prisoner was held for 48 hours in an unfurnished cell without basic sanitation and had been denied food and water for 24 hours. No disciplinary action was taken against any of the staff involved.