A protest has been held outside HMP Hindley to highlight the treatment of inmates at the prison.
Around 25 protesters gathered outside the Bickershaw prison last night, Thursday, in a bid to “build pressure on the governor to act” after a damming report found prisoners were often kept in their cells for than 24 hours at a time due to frequent shutdowns.
The report, which was released in November by the Prison Inspectorate, branded the regime at the prison “one of the worst, possibly, the very worst, that inspectors have ever seen in this type of prison”.
The protest was organised by two groups called Manchester No Prisons and IWW Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee who said they wanted to show prisoners “they are not forgotten”.
In a post on a Facebook page called Prison Noise Demo, the organisers said: “HMP Hindley has been branded “the very worst prison ever seen” by a watchdog, with prisoners often banged up in their cells for days at a time, and very high levels of violence.
“Right now a prisoner takes their own life every three days, and many more harm themselves, at the highest rate since records began. “IPP” prisoners, trapped inside without a release date, are the most likely to kill and harm themselves.
“This time of year will be a difficult time for prisoners and their friends and families on the outside. Let’s stand with prisoners & let them know they are not forgotten. Come to this prison demo with your loudest noisemakers, and let’s build the pressure on the Governor of HMP Hindley to act.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed they attended the scene of the protest and also deployed a helicopter to assess the situation. No one was hurt and no arrests were made.
The report highlighted how drugs were more easily available to inmates than library books and clean sheets, with many developing a drug problem since entering the prison.
But the Ministry of Justice said steps had been taken since the July inspection to address the problems identified in the report, including additional staff transferred to the prison to help make improvements to the regime.
Even so, some staff at the prison took part in a national Prison Officers Association (POA) walk out a week before the report was released. They claimed staff shortages and an increase in violence and the use of drugs in the prison meant it was not a safe environment to work in.
Prison officers cannot by law take part in a strike and the unions members were forced to return to work earlier than planed after a High Court injunction ordered an end to the protest.