HM Prison Service

Increasing violence at Pentonville Prison, inspectors warn

Violence fuelled by gangs, drugs, debt and "volatile young prisoners" has "increased markedly" at HMP Pentonville, inspectors have warned.

HMP Pentonville
PA Media

An unannounced inspection of HMP Pentonville was unsafe and plans for activities, rehabilitation and release were not good enough and drugs remained "hugely problematic", with more than a quarter (29%) testing positive during a random drug test.

In the last six months there have been 264 assaults on staff and inmates and 61 fights, compared with 196 and 65 respectively during a previous inspection.

The problems were "clear and serious" with the prison failing to meet "undoubtedly great challenges", according to the watchdog's report.

But Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: "The relatively new governor and his senior team "appeared finally to be getting to grips with longstanding problems".

The Victorian jail's four wings - which are largely unchanged since it was built in 1842 - now hold up to 1,310 adult men, with nearly 10% being under 21.

Phil Copple, at the Prison and Probation Service, said: "We are under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge at HMP Pentonville, but I share the inspectors' confidence in this management team and fully expect to see real improvements.