ACCOMMODATION at Gloucester prison is among the worst in all the country's jails, inspectors have said.
HMP Gloucester has "stood still" an unannounced inspection has found.
In the report published today, Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick says the prison has many problems to address.
He described the riverside prison as old with poor infrastructure, in a cramped inner city location and that much needs to be done to raise often basic standards.
Although he said it remains to a great extent a safe place, inspectors were concerned to find the environment for vulnerable prisoners was poor, their regime very limited, and there was evidence that they experienced abuse from other prisoners.
Segregated prisoners were not continually supervised, though this was mitigated by low numbers and generally brief stays, and accommodation is among the poorest in the prison system, with dingy cells in the oldest part of the prison and 'night sanitation' access to toilets in a newer wing.
"Gloucester was a prison that seemed to have stood still," said Mr Hardwick.
"It was disappointing that issues that we had raised previously had not been addressed with sufficient rigour, but it was encouraging that the new governor was clear about the problems facing the prison and was trying to improve basic standards."
However, inspectors were pleased to find that the poor environment was mitigated by "exceptionally good" staff-prisoner relationships, prisoners said they felt safe and there were relatively few incidents of recorded violence.
The incidence of self-harm was low, despite two self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection.
Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: "I recognise the concerns outlined in this report, particularly in the areas of resettlement and purposeful activity, but also note the positive aspects that have been highlighted."
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, added: "This worrying inspection report reveals that HMP Gloucester requires urgent action to overcome major problems, with accommodation being some of the worst in the prison estate."