The head of the prison service has accepted the findings of two damning inspection reports on Liverpool and Nottingham prisons but blamed the failures on government cuts and the influx of drugs into jails.
Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons in England and Wales, said there had been a “failure of leadership at all levels” after finding Nottingham prison was “fundamentally unsafe” and describing conditions at Liverpool as “appalling”.
Michael Spurr, the chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service since 2010, promised improvements at both jails.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he accepted the findings of the reports but said they should be seen in the context of underinvestment.
Asked if he had a grip of the problems, Spurr said: “We have been managing a service that has had to deal with significant pressures over those eight years.”
The prison service has suffered a real-terms budget cut of 40% since 2010, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.