I never saw a rat in my 20 years in jail. Today’s prisoners don’t deserve such terrible conditions

The news that a 71-year-old pensioner serving a short sentence in Wormwood Scrubs prison developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when he was locked in a rat-infested cell for 23 hours a day will not have come as a surprise to prisons chief inspector Peter Clarke. Only last week, Clarke’s report on HMP Bedford revealed that a prisoner was catching and killing rats in his cell even as that prison was being inspected.

The Scrubs pensioner is now suing the prison service for the “vivid and terrifying nightmares”, anxiety attacks and depression he has suffered since the experience. The saddest part of his story is that he says when he complained to prison officers about the rats, he was told: “This isn’t a hotel, you know. You’re here to be punished.” Is that really the answer he deserved?

Related: Former prisoner sues Ministry of Justice over PTSD from rats

Related: Why HMP Birmingham has been brought back under state control

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