Strangeways: A Prison Officer’s Story by Neil Samworth – review

An insider’s story of working at Strangeways reveals the profound flaws of Britain’s prison system

Over the past 15 years or so our prison system has been sliding deeper and deeper into crisis. Indeed, according to the recently published annual report by the chief inspector of prisons, violence, suicide and self-harm have reached a level that no advanced civilised society should tolerate. Squalor, drug abuse, poor access to education and work skills, and a failure to maintain the fabric of our jails, have led to the “worst prison conditions ever seen”. So how have we come to this?

Many clues can be found in this book by former prison officer Neil Samworth. As a serving life prisoner, I met hundreds of officers like Samworth (who spent 11 years as an officer, mainly in Strangeways, before being forced to leave because of PTSD) – men and women who should never have ...