Inmates are being held in the worst conditions ever seen in a British jail, a damning report by dailymail reveals.
Some convicts were forced to live in damp cells that should be ‘condemned’, with exposed electrical wiring, broken windows and filthy, leaking lavatories.
In one of the most scathing reports ever, HM Inspectorate of Prisons criticised the ‘abject failure’ to make HMP Liverpool safe.
Meanwhile, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke used new powers to demand ministers step in to improve a ‘fundamentally unsafe’ jail.
He issued an ‘urgent notification’ for the first time, requiring the Justice Secretary to make an action plan to tackle ‘serious failures’ at Victorian-era HMP Nottingham.
The category-B jail, which has a capacity of 1,060, has been rated ‘poor’ for safety – the lowest level – three times in four years.
Mr Clarke said failure to act would cost lives, blaming the problems on a failure of leadership.
The reports laid bare the crisis engulfing jails as self-harm, violence and assaults on guards have all climbed to record levels.
Inspectors said they were shocked over the state of HMP Liverpool, a category-B facility holding 1,115 men at the time of their visit last September.
The report said the jail had a ‘significant’ infestation of cockroaches and vermin, with one area so dirty only professionals could clean it. Communal areas were condemned as ‘decrepit.’
Violence had soared – there were 44 attacks on staff and 103 on prisoners in the six months to last July, compared with 14 and 59 at the last inspection in 2015.
Clarke said, “The inspection team was highly experienced and could not recall having seen worse living conditions than those at HMP Liverpool. Many cells were not fit to be used and should have been decommissioned.
“I saw piles of rubbish that had clearly been there for a long time, and in which inspectors reported seeing rats on a regular basis.”
Nearly two-thirds of inmates claimed drugs were easy to get hold of and staff had recovered 32 drones carrying illicit contraband in six months – more than one a week. Four prisoners had killed themselves since the previous inspection and two more suspected suicides occurred shortly after the latest visit.
Half of inmates were locked up during the working day, many for more than 22 hours, and there were more than 2,000 maintenance jobs yet to be completed.
The cell of one man, who was vulnerable with mental health issues, had no furniture other than a bed. Clarke said, “It should not have needed my personal intervention for this man to be moved from such appalling conditions.”
HMP Liverpool governor Peter Francis was removed within days of the inspection. The watchdog said HMP Nottingham had dramatically declined since 2010.
In the last two years, levels of self-harm rose ‘very significantly’ and eight prisoners were believed to have killed themselves. One in three inmates tested positive for drugs and levels of assaults against staff – around 100 in six months – were twice that of similar jails.
Clarke said the prison was in a ‘dangerous state’ with ‘irrefutable evidence’ previous findings had been ignored.
On HMP Liverpool, HM Prison and Probation Service chief executive Michael Spurr said immediate action had been taken to rectify the ‘unacceptable’ situation.
On HMP Nottingham, Justice Secretary David Gauke said it was clear prison staff needed support to deliver a safer establishment.