This week 30 years ago: Pentonville Prison ‘at breaking point’

Islington Gazette: February 20, 1987

Islington Gazette: February 20, 1987 - Credit: Archant

A Pentonville Prison officer feared the Caledonian Road jail was “on the brink”.

Mick Grace, who had worked there for 16 years, told the Gazette: “There is a very bad atmosphere on the wings. The possibility of trouble is greater than ever before. Staff morale is at rock bottom.”

Mr Grace said 69 men had to share one toilet on one wing, and added: “The prisoners should not have to live in these conditions. It’s bad enough having to work here.”

Built in 1842, the prison was designed for a maximum 834 inmates – but it was heaving with 1,084. Meanwhile, staff shortages meant they could not be supervised enough for recreation, or respond to emergency calls.

Does any of this sound familiar?