Action take at Hollesley Bay prison to protect public after inspection team's criticism
PUBLISHED: 11:50 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 05 August 2019
A Suffolk prison is taking action to reassure the community after being criticised for being "weak" in its public protection work.
Prison inspectors deemed Hollesley Bay generally very safe, but raised concerns about offenders who have been allowed into the community without restrictions.
Inspectors noted that prisoners who had potentially posed a risk to children had not been promptly assessed.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has met Justice Minister Robert Buckland and received assurances that the prison, near Woodbridge is fully addressing the weaknesses identified in the report, which said almost 40% of prisoners at Hollesley Bay arrived in open conditions without a full assessment of their risk.
Dr Coffey said: "I was deeply concerned by the March report which undermined the trust of local communities and the wider population, who expect that rigorous process is followed.
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"I am, therefore, pleased to report that the prison has now made several changes to protect the public. These include ensuring the full implementation of the Public Protection Manual, enhancing its own public protection policy, rolling out new training for all staff and regularly reviewing public protection through a weekly, minuted meeting."
As the prison has implemented these steps, senior staff within the prison - as well as the Prison Group Director - have continued to monitor progress. The Justice Minister is now confident that the prison has the senior support required to improve.
Dr Coffey said: "I reminded the Justice Minister that local residents needed confidence that when prisoners are moved to an open prison that the necessary safety and suitability checks had been made. I'm glad changes were made straight away following the report and I will continue to monitor progress."
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said in his report that Hollesley's public protection work "was not good enough".
At the time of the inspection team's visit around 20pc of the jail's population were deemed high risk, about 10pc had been assessed as presenting a medium or high risk to children and more than half (58pc) had been convicted of a violent or drug-related offence.
As well as raising concerns about public protection, inspectors were also worried about drug misuse at the prison. In particular the report noted that there were problems with cannabis, cocaine and steroids at the prison.
Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service welcomed the Inspectorate's positive assessment of Hollesley Bay as an effective open prison, doing impressive work to prepare men for resettlement, often after lengthy periods in custody and pledged to take all steps needed to improve public protection and implement the report's recommendations.