The widespread availability of drugs in HMP Wandsworth is leading to debt, bullying, prisoners becoming violent and self-harm.

This and other concerns were all raised in an annual report of the prison which took place from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 and has recently been released.

Once a year, the Prison Act 1952 requires every prison to be monitored by an independent board (IMB) appointed by the Secretary of State from members of the community in which the prison or centre is situated.

At the end of the reporting year, there were 1476 prisoners in HMP Wandsworth, 24 more than the Operational Capacity was set at but more than 600 more than the Certified Normal Accommodation target of 841. Of those, 839 prisoners were British and 637 were foreign nationals.

The IMB Chair, Elizabeth Barker, said: “We have raised a number of serious issues for the Governor, the Prison Service and Ministers to address.

"However, we recognise the hard work of the prison staff, the majority of whom are new to the service. The Board commends them all for their dedication and professionalism.”

Those concerns ranged from porn, to self-harm to the quality of the food served.

"An initiative was launched by the Governing Governor in September to raise the standard of living conditions, which were considered to have slipped," the report read.

"There was to be zero tolerance of graffiti and pornography in cells and men were encouraged to take ownership of the cleanliness of cells and landings.

"This was a work in progress throughout the year but improvements were clearly visible."

When contacted about this, a Prison Service spokeswoman said prisoners who graffiti or damage cells are made to clean up and if they don’t they are punished.

Self-harm is also a major concern and ties into a drugs culture that the service says it is trying to eradicate.

"The widespread availability of psychoactive substances, in addition to other drugs, remained a major problem and was of great concern to the Board," the report continued.

"Inevitably drugs caused problems of debt and bullying that resulted in prisoners exhibiting violent behaviour and/or self harming.

"Prisoners found to be under the influence of drugs were not always tested immediately."

Over a six month span, more than 700 incidents were reported of prisoners self-harming.

The Prison Service spokeswoman said of these issues: “Wandsworth, like other Victorian local prisons, has faced significant challenges with drugs, but is tackling this issue by checking incoming mail, using sniffer dogs and has a dedicated drugs search team.

“To help reduce self-harm, the key worker scheme has been brought in giving each prisoner a dedicated prison officer for extra support.”

The report also noted that insufficient efforts were made to help prisoners find work and accommodation upon release.

This led to the IMB being "extremely concerned" that more than three quarters of prisoners discharged had neither a job nor an agreed training/education place.

This was despite the proportion of prisoners who had basic literacy and mathematics skills assessed during the induction process having increased from 50 per cent at the start of the reporting year to about 80 per cent by its end.