Two years after being branded the least safe jail in the country Wandsworth Prison has seen a remarkable turnaround in fortune.

Following the 2011 visit, inspectors made an astonishing 172 recommendations relating to how the prison's treatment of inmates could be improved.

This time around however Nick Hardwick, chief prison inspector, concluded that 117 recommendations had been achieved, 24 partially achieved and 24 not achieved.

The greatest area of improvement seems to have been in safety with violence, self-harm and bullying classed as low and drug use reduced, although the availability of drugs was still a concern.

Staff/prisoner relationships were much better and nearly 75 per cent of prisoners, compared with just over 50 per cent at the last inspection, now thought staff treated them with respect.

Overcrowding had also reduced and as a result more prisoners were able to enrol in "purposeful activities", designed to keep stimulated, rather than must menial cleaning work.

This is a far cry from two years ago when the culture within the prison was described as "negative" and "deep-set" as well as being run "in the interests of staff".

Mr Hardwick said: "At our last inspection, just under two years ago, we criticised the prison severely.

"Against all four of our healthy prison tests - safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement - outcomes for prisoners are now reasonably good.

"The governor and his management team have created a sense of optimism and energy in the prison.

"One inspection report does not of itself mean that the deep-set negative culture, built up over decades, that we witnessed at our last visit is eradicated.

"However, at our previous inspection Wandsworth was being run in the interests of the staff; at this inspection we found a prison that was working toward becoming an accountable public service."

It was not all positive though because, according to Mr Hardwick, too with many prisoners were still sharing cells designed for one.

There were also "negative perceptions" about access to basic amenities, such as showers, retrieving their stored property and problems using telephones.

The inspection found more than 40 per cent of prisoners were foreign nationals, 69 of whom were held beyond the end of their sentence and should have been moved to the immigration estate.

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