Prisons watchdog labels ‘dangerous, filthy’ Brinsford Young Offenders Institution the worst it's ever seen

Staff were overwhelmed by the scale of problems at jail

Crime correspondent

A squalid and dangerous jail where inmates spent as little as 10 minutes outside of their cells in the day was branded as the worst seen in England and Wales during the four-year tenure of the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Drug-taking was rife, filthy cells had smashed windows and staff were overwhelmed by the scale of problems at Brinsford Young Offenders Institution, according to a report published today by the prisons inspectorate.

The prisoners, who are aged 18 to 21, had been put into cells that were covered with violent graffiti, symbols of gang affiliations, and in one case a scrawled picture of a machine-pistol firing bullets alongside the words: “Gun shot bitch.”

Other pictures taken by the inspection team showed broken and burnt-out windows, filthy toilets and cells that were not fit for occupation. The Wolverhampton prison, which holds nearly 600 men, had deteriorated since a previous damning report in 2012 and was the worst of nearly 200 since Chief Inspector Nick Hardwick took on the role.

“It was bad and it’s got worse,” he said. “These are the worst overall findings my inspectorate has identified in a single prison during my tenure as Chief Inspector.

“This was a particularly dangerous prison. There were chaotic arrangements when they first came into prison, with no assessment of whether there was a risk to themselves or a risk to others, with chances of something going horribly wrong. There were a lot of frightened young men there.”

A high number of prisoners were being monitored because of the risk that they would harm themselves after being threatened or bullied by other inmates, according to the report. Two young men hanged themselves from the bars of their bunk bed at the prison weeks apart in 2009.

One of them, Adam Rushton, 20, had been considered at risk of suicide two days before he died, but nothing was done, according to the charity Inquest, which monitors deaths in custody.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the report had uncovered an unsafe, ineffective and violent institution that should be closed. “Rather than locking up teenagers in squalid conditions, letting some out of their cells for just 10 minutes a day, the Government needs to start to reconsider its policy of wasting public funds and young people’s lives behind bars,” she said.

Mr Hardwick said that large numbers spent most of the day locked up in their cells and little was done to address their offending. He said a new governor was appointed after the inspection in November 2013 and is tackling the problems with “vigour”. Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “The prison is now clean, safe, ordered and is operating to an acceptable standard. There is more to do… but the Governor has a clear strategy in place.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future