Immediate action to overhaul HMP Bedford

Extra staff have been deployed to HMP Bedford to reduce violence and self-harm as part of a package of urgent measures to improve conditions at the prison

  • extra staff deployed to improve safety 
  • new dedicated Violence Reduction and Safety senior leaders appointed 
  • completion of new Segregation Unit by spring 2024 

The changes follow on from a critical review by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in November which identified serious concerns resulting in an Urgent Notification. 

As part of the Urgent Notification process Ministers have 28 days to respond to the notice and set out the immediate actions needed to bring about long-term change.   

Two senior leaders have been brought in solely to help deal with the complex causes of violence and self-harm at the prison. They will use their extensive experience to help staff tackle these issues and mandatory drug testing will also be reintroduced to cut drug-related violence. 

Improvements to living conditions are already underway with more cleanliness and pest control checks and a new Segregation Unit is being constructed to open in Spring 2024. 

Prisons Minister Edward Argar said: 

"I was deeply concerned about the Inspectorate’s findings at HMP Bedford and the actions I am setting out today will address the issues highlighted by the Chief Inspector.

"The experienced staff we have brought in will help reduce violence and improve safety, following the improvements to the prison’s living conditions we’ve already made."

Other areas where immediate action is being taken include: 

  • Recruiting two new Diversity and Inclusion Leads to ensure prisoners can raise concerns over accusations of racism and that they are addressed immediately. 
  • A weekly Use of Force scrutiny review panel has begun and reviews all incidents where force is used against prisoners. 
  • An independent review of prisoner induction will be carried out to ensure all prisoners receive a full induction that meets their needs on arrival. 
  • To improve access to purposeful activity the prison’s education provider will deliver maths and English teaching to 50% more prisoners from April 2024. 

The government introduced the Urgent Notification process in 2017 to ensure immediate, urgent action was taken when necessary to address serious concerns identified by inspectors.

Ministry of Justice
HM Prison and Probation Service
The Rt Hon Edward Argar MP