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'Less supervised environment' may help criminals at closed-security prison

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 08 December 2018

Prisoners at a closed security jail in Suffolk should be let out on temporary licence to prepare them for life outside, a new report has suggested.

Inmates at HMP Warren Hill, a Category C prison in Hollesley, would benefit from supervised visits to neighbouring towns or a potentially even a job in the community, monitors said.

Criminals classified as Category C are those who “cannot be trusted in open conditions, but are unlikely to try and escape”.

The majority of inmates at Warren Hill are serving life or indeterminate sentences for public protection, according to the establishment’s annual Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report.

While he praised the jail’s “pioneering” approach to helping prisoners prepare for their release, IMB chair Colin Reid wrote: “Warren Hill residents are not eligible for Release on Temporary Licence, and the IMB considers that the opportunity for them to gain experience of a less supervised environment should be helpful in reducing their risk of re-offending.”

Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Reid said allowing prisoners out on temporary licence would give inmates “better prospects of life when they get out”.

“It’s about giving prisoners some experience of the outside world, which is likely to have changed so much,” he added.

“However, any decision to release would require a rigorous risk assessment process.”

READ MORE: Jail starts calling prisoners ‘residents’ and cells ‘rooms’

In previous annual reviews, the board has urged government ministers to reconsider the prison’s approach on the matter.

Situated next to Hollesley Bay open prison, which has come under scrutiny this year over plans to house sex offenders there, Warren Hill recorded a population of 242 at the end of September.

It was recently rated the top performing prison in the country.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who has spoken out over recent proposals for Hollesley Bay, said: “I support the concept of preparing prisoners to return to life in the community, but a more sensible approach would be for prisoners coming close to that status would be for them to be transferred to Hollesley Bay.”

A Prison Service spokesman added: “Our priority is keeping the public and communities safe.

“There are no immediate plans to change the current arrangements at HMP Warren Hill.”

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