A recent report from the Independent has stated that Fire safety in prisons is “a catastrophe waiting to happen”.
A Freedom of Information request by Mark Leech, the editor of the Prisons Handbook, revealed every prison inspection in England and Wales in 2016 resulted in a non-compliance order. Out of 19 of the inspections, all resulted in a ‘red-flag’ which is known as a non-compliance notice with some cases being issues Statutory Enforcement Notices since some Governors failed to take action within 28 days of the inspection.
Last year (2016), there were 2580 reported fires in prisons in England and Wales.
Mr Leech, said that he had decided to investigate because “Grenfell changed everything.” He told the Independent “I actually hadn’t thought much about fire safety in prisons until Grenfell, even though I have been involved in prison campaigns for years. When I got the results and every single [inspection] was a failure, it was a real shock, even to a campaigner like me who is used to failings in the system. It’s a catalogue of decay and collapse and of course, we urge the Government to take action urgently.”
He added: “It is a catastrophe waiting to happen, but what I want is for that catastrophe to be averted. The last thing I want is to be the person saying, ‘I told you so’. It can be prevented and that’s what I want.”
A spokesperson from a Prison Service told the Independent “We take fire safety extremely seriously. All nineteen prisons have undertaken immediate action to address the recommendations made by the inspection group. Every single prison across the estate has a mandatory annual fire risk assessment, carried out by a fire safety specialist, and individual fire strategies in place which are closely monitored.”
Original Article Source – The Independent