I’ve been pushing for issues around Bedford prison to be addressed since my election, and most recently I’ve twice brought a serious security issue to the House of Commons – and in writing – but to no avail. There are broken screens at HMP Bedford that have resulted in constituents who live close to the prison having to put up with loud, intimidating and lewd behaviour from prisoners, and daily intrusions on to their properties by criminals smuggling contraband through their gardens and over the prison wall.
The Prisons Minister Rory Stewart MP committed to immediately raising the matter with the governor, but this easy to fix security issue has still yet to be addressed. I’ll be picking this up with him again next week.
Mr Stewart has used smoke and mirrors when he claimed this week there’s been a drop in violence across the ten ‘back to basics’ prisons, whilst the actions and financial support necessary to make improvements to security and living conditions across the prison estate, including HMP Bedford, have not been forthcoming.
These are desperate tactics here from a minister who gave a commitment to resign if he failed on prison safety, yet apparently has done little to address the terrible conditions within the prison itself.
If the recent HMIP report is anything to go by, Bedford Prison certainly ought to have been identified as one of the worst in the country. But perhaps acknowledging a problem that his government will not commit the resources to fix is not convenient.