Anger over inmate 'holidays'
TEENAGERS serving life sentences at a Suffolk prison could be sent on barge cruises to teach them how to shop and cook. Proposals are being drawn up by management at the Warren Hill and Carlford Unit closed prison near Woodbridge to take youngsters to the Nottingham area in early October to stay on a barge for several days.
TEENAGERS serving life sentences at a Suffolk prison could be sent on barge cruises to teach them how to shop and cook.
Proposals are being drawn up by management at the Warren Hill and Carlford Unit closed prison near Woodbridge to take youngsters to the Nottingham area in early October to stay on a barge for several days.
But Stuart Robinson, governor, denied the barge trip would be a holiday and he said the youngsters would learn valuable life skills including shopping, cooking and looking after themselves.
Rock climbing in the Peak District could also be on the agenda if the proposals are given the go-ahead.
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It costs £36,000 a year to look after each inmate at the two high security sites at Hollesley. Warren Hill is for juvenile males serving sentences for a variety of offences. Carlford is one of three specialist units nationally to hold 15 to 18-year-olds serving long-term and life sentences for offences including murder, arson and sexual abuse of other children.
One prison officer said: "It will cost a lot of money and some of them come from Carlford, a long-term institution for all sorts of nasty crimes. The reason given for the trip is to teach them leadership skills but I do not call this sort of thing is what they need.
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"They need the basic social skills and maths and English. The staff are not very happy about it."
Youngsters already go indoor rock climbing in Suffolk, hiking, beach cleaning, cycling, canoeing, camping at Sutton Hoo and on high ropes at Thetford. The proposed barge trip would extend the amount of time they stay away from Hollesley.
Mr Robinson said the activities helped them gain a Duke of Edinburgh award and other young offender establishments adopted the same approach in having outdoor activities.
He said the majority of the youngsters allowed out came from Warren Hill and those chosen were nearing the end of their sentence. They were well motivated boys who had earned a trip and they would be risk assessed before being allowed out on licence under the supervision of prison officers.
"The barge proposal has been put forward and costed. The options for boat hire for October are cheaper and it could be for three or four days.
"We particularly want to pick lads that may have to look after themselves when they are discharged – it can be daunting for them when they are out – and they would have a budget for food, doing the shopping, doing their own catering and learning how to look after themselves," said Mr Robinson.
He said the outdoor activities were a test for the young people and, "none of it is holidayish."
Mr Robinson added: "A lot of them come back and they say they are shattered, not just because of the physical activity, they have to think for themselves and do things in different ways.
"We can not do that in institutional life, it is the opposite of institutional life where everything is found for you. A lot of it is challenging their way of behaviour and thinking. They always find it stimulating and they look at things differently when they come back and develop very good relationships with the staff."