1823 Gaol Act

Elizabeth Fry began her campaign for improvements in the prison system in 1813. However, the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, rejected Fry's ideas. Sidmouth's successor, Sir Robert Peel, was much more sympathetic, and eventually persuaded Parliament to pass the 1823 Gaols Act. This act introduced regular visits by prison chaplains, the payment of gaolers (before they were dependent on fees from the prisoners), the prohibition of irons and women warders were put in charge of women prisoners. The legislation was ineffective as there were no paid inspectors. The prison inspectorate did not appear until the passing of the 1853 Prison Act.