News this week that the prisons inspectorate has resumed full inspections is very welcome.
Prisons do not magically become safe, healthy and decent places merely as a result of inspection. Inspectors can identify problems, but they do not have any enforcement powers. Implementation of inspectors' recommendations is at best patchy, as we pointed out a few years ago in one of our UK Justice Policy Review reports.
Yet, without independent inspection, problems in prison can fester and grow unseen.
While the failure of ministers to agree to the vaccination of all prisoners and staff will unnecessarily prolong the lockdown in prisons, the return of full inspection is a small sign that some, at least, of the lockdown restrictions are starting to ease.