Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Fears raised over HMP Highpoint inspection

09:25 16 January 2013

HIGHPOINT PRISON, STRADISHALL

HIGHPOINT PRISON, STRADISHALL

Archant

AN INSPECTION of a Suffolk prison has revealed fears over gang culture, dirty cells, poor facilities and underemployed prisoners.

shares

The report on HMP Highpoint also found the flow of drugs and mobile phones into the facility was one of the “challenges” of managing a large prison.

Prison bosses have said they will use recommendations to build on their progress, but critics last night claimed the findings were disappointing and also highlighted “serious flaws” in Government plans to build a super-prison capable of accommodating 2,000 inmates somewhere in the UK.

Released this week, the report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick, describes the prison as “generally safe and decent” but lists a series of short-comings.

Mr Hardwick said the inspection team had noticed a “marked discrepancy” between prisoners’ own perceptions of safety in the prison and their observations.

But he suggested inmates’ claims of “significant” and “serious” gang issues were well-founded but not identified by prison managers.

Mr Hardwick also revealed a quarter of prisoners had said it was easy to get drugs in the secluded jail.

He added: “The large perimeter and rural location were a security challenge. The threats posed by illegal drugs and mobile phones were proactively managed. Nevertheless, positive drug testing rates were high and there had been significant finds of both.”

The report stated that reception areas and some first night cells were dirty and accommodation ranged from badly equipped, shared standard cells with poorly screened toilets to others with modern en-suite facilities.

Mr Hardwick said the team, who visited the facility in November 2012, had also been concerned that there were too few activity spaces available with 15% of the 1,300 prisoners unemployed and locked in their cells during working parts of the day. A total of 20% of prisoners, about 260, were said to be underemployed.

He added: “The prison made good use of the activity places it had. Most were good quality and helped prisoners obtain useful qualifications. However, for a training prison, there were simply too few places available.”

The inspector, who said prisoners were “justified” in their dissatisfaction with food, questioned the support of foreign nationals and claimed that facilities and visiting arrangements were “noticeably poor”, added that one of his main concerns was offender management.

Mr Hardwick said although “intentions were good” and there was “decent strategy, structure and policies” this was undermined by lack of contact between high risk prisoners and their supervisors.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform charity, said although the inspectorate report was fairly positive a number of areas were cause for concern.

He added: “It is important that prisoners are engaged in purposeful activity, but too many at Highpoint are underemployed, meaning they are unlikely to develop skills that will be useful after their release. It is disappointing that visiting arrangements and facilities were found to be poor and that foreign nationals received little support.

“Similarly, it is worrying that a serious problem with gang related issues was not acted on by staff.”

Mr Neilson said that the findings were particularly resonant given Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s proposal to build Britain’s biggest prison.

He added: “It is also significant that inspectors found that the flow of drugs and mobile phones into the jail was one of the ‘challenges’ of managing a large prison. This finding only gives weight to our argument that the government’s plan, announced last week, to build a large new prison holding more than 2,000 people is seriously flawed.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said: “The Governor will use the recommendations in the report to build on the progress that has already been made and address concerns raised, particularly around the areas of purposeful activity and offender management.”

shares

0 comments

Protestors take part in No Adastral New Town march through Woodbridge

One word sums up the hot-button issue in Suffolk Coastal – housing.

Doug Field - Executive Officer - Finance and Technology, East of England Co-op

An East Anglian store chain is celebrating a 3% rise in profits, but warned store closures could be on the cards this year as it continues to battle tough trading conditions.

The EEAST emergency operations centre

Health minister Dan Poulter has praised the leadership and investment at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust service after it recorded some of its best figures in Suffolk for months.

left to right): Andrew Harrison, Managing Director Stansted Airport; Charlie Cornish, MAG Chief Executive; Beth Brewster, MAG Retail Director

Phase two of an £80million project to transform restaurants on offer at Stansted Airport was officially opened yesterday, amid hopes the improved offer will attract long-haul airlines to the transport hub.

A small plane kept the Virgin balloon company for part of the trip

Geometrical farmers’ fields, tree canopies and a selfie were all caught on camera when photographer Sarah Lucy Brown flew over the county in a hot air balloon.

Jonathan Glenister, who has been reported missing

Police are searching for a 20-year-old man from Haverhill who has not been seen since Saturday evening.

HMS Rhododendron at anchor in Russia

Talk of VE Day evokes different memories for different people. For Arthur Simmons, it came as he sailed back from Russia.

IPSWICH TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB

Fans of the animated Disney film Frozen will have the opportunity to experience every song and snow flake with an Open Air Cinema Day at Ipswich Town Football Club this summer.

Debenham village parish sign.

The leader of a Suffolk village authority has questioned the electoral process after a representative could not stand for re-election due to citizenship issues.

Delays have been caused by a signal fault

Rail services between Norwich and Diss are having to run at a reduced speed on some lines due to a fault with the signalling system.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages