INSPECTORS said HMP Hewell is improving but “remains a disgrace.”

In its annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said the prison is “safer and more secure” than in previous years but “systematic failings remain a cause for concern.”

In June 2018, the prison in Tardebigge was subject to special measures before being placed on the Prison Performance Support Programme in February 2020.

This was in light of “deep-rooted issues” that couldn’t be “fixed overnight".

HMP Hewell received support such as additional staff, training and airport-style security.

IMB inspectors praised the prison’s management of the impact from the Covid pandemic.

The report, which covers October 1 2020 to September 30 2021, said: “The board is particularly keen to commend the agility and imagination with which the prison has managed the impact of the pandemic and the extent to which both the prisoners and staff have, largely, been protected from the direct impact of Covid.

“The board commends the very real progress made during the year towards making the prison cleaner, smarter and more comfortable."

However, issues are still being presented by the building due to “years of neglect” which include frequent false fire alarms, broken vehicle gates, unreliable/broken keys and outdated computer systems.

The prison was also branded as inappropriate and a “disgrace” for disabled prison staff and prisoners.

The report added: “The fact that the majority of men share cells designed for a single occupant has largely become an accepted feature of life in the prison.

“Such arrangements are undignified and appear to create much of the tension within the prison.”

Inspectors noted that prisoners still held under indeterminate sentence, also known as imprisonment for public protection (IPP), “remains an injustice and an inhumane system for a civilised society.”

Indeterminate sentences, a sentence with no time period, were abolished in 2012, but offenders already serving the jail term remain in prison.

Last year the IMB noted that 359 incidents of self-harm happened from March 1 to September 30.

Although levels remain too high, they are decreasing with “more personalised and targeted support and interventions offered” to high-risk individuals.

IMB chair, Rodger Lawrence, said: “The board recognises the improvements since its last report to provide a service fit for the 21st century.

“Improvements in safety and cleanliness are impressive.

“We welcome the refurbishment programme, but we remain concerned at the poor facilities for people with disabilities.

“And, yet again, the board has had to draw the Minister’s attention to the inhumanity of the IPP sentence on prisoners who are still in prison, long after the minimum period set by the court.”

The Prison Service say they have installed ramps across the orison to support prisoners with physical disabilities.

The service also said the government is significantly investing in English and Welsh prisons to transform the estate.

A total of £4 billion will provide 20,000 additional prison places and an additional £156 million will tackle to maintenance issues.

As Prison Service spokesman said: ““We are pleased the report recognises improved safety and security at HMP Hewell, while vital work to increase accessibility is already underway.