Inspectors find failing "dangerous" Bedford Prison improving during surprise visit

But some officers are still failing to turn on their body-worn cameras during incidents

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 3:18 pm

Bedford Prison is making promising progress, inspectors found during an unannounced visit.

During the inspection, the category B men’s prison had put a sustained focus on improvement – but there were still some concerns.

Namely, many officers are still failing to turn on their body-worn cameras during incidents.

Bedford Prison

And, despite considerable progress, levels of violence remain the highest in the country.

Back in 2018, the failing prison was given an Urgent Notification with Charlie Taylor, chief inspector of prisons, describing it as “dangerous, understaffed and dilapidated”.

Since then, targets and measures have been put in place – and this led inspectors to increase healthy prison scores by one point across every area.

Purposeful activity, education and training had been prioritised.

According to inspectors, the prison has worked to improve the experiences of black and minority ethnic prisoners, who made up just over 40% of the prison population at the time of the inspection.

Equality and diversity had been prioritised in the last 12 months, with the governor appointing a dedicated lead.

Despite the refurbishment of some cells, conditions in the prison continued to be unacceptable, particularly on A and B wings. Prisoners were sharing cramped cells designed for one person, while facilities and support for prisoners with disabilities were poor.

But Mr Taylor said: “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.”