News, Residential

Inmates protest over badly lit cells

Prisons have never been known for their light and airy spaces.

Inmates have raised complaints about the poor quality lighting found in cells at the Victorian-era Exeter jail. A number of prisoners have written to watchdog organisations in order to say that they simply cannot read at night in the current dim conditions.

In one instance, it was discovered that it took six months to change a lightbulb in the prison library, inspectors found.

Plans are in progress to install new doors with bigger observation panels at the jail in order to let more light in, but inmates are demanding more and are insistant that better spotlights are put in their cells instead.

A review by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) found the cells at HMP Exeter were ‘too dark’. It stated: ‘There are obvious problems inherent in the cramped inner city site and in the Victorian buildings, which are difficult to repair and maintain.

‘Cells are dark, especially in SCU (Special Care Unit – also called the Segregation Unit). Its bottom floor location means it is always dark.’

Standing in stark contrast to Britain’s old Victorian jails, the country’s newest prison, the £212million showpiece HMP Berwyn on the outskirts of Wrexham, will open soon. Cells in the new jail will have wide windows letting in much more natural light.