Jail loses

By Richard SmithA REPORT has revealed a jail has cast aside its “holiday camp” tag and become the best in the East of England for finding jobs for prisoners on their release into the community.

By Richard Smith

A REPORT has revealed a jail has cast aside its “holiday camp” tag and become the best in the East of England for finding jobs for prisoners on their release into the community.

Hollesley Bay open prison, near Woodbridge, had been tarred with the unwelcome label for several years, particularly when disgraced peer Lord Archer spent part of his sentence for perjury there.

The prison gained a national notoriety for a relaxed regime, the frequency of prisoners walking out of the jail and the illegal consignments of drugs, alcohol and Marks and Spencer hampers.


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But a report unveiled yesterday by Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, revealed positive progress made at the category D jail.

“There were some excellent examples of individual and respectful care being shown to prisoners by staff at Hollesley Bay, particularly in reception and education, and this engendered respect in return,” she said.

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“Religious provision was good, but legal services were almost non-existent; race relations work required enhancement and attention to the needs of foreign nationals was virtually non-existent; health care was very good, but food was vociferously criticised by prisoners. This mixed picture suggest an establishment at a crossroads.''

Michael Wood, prison governor, said it was unfair on the staff that the jail had been given a misleading “holiday camp” label.

“It is definitely not the case. There is a lot of positive and hard work going on in this establishment,” he added.

“There is a fairly relaxed attitude, but that is supported by a positive regime and the people who know us, know the true story.”

The inspection took place in December and one prisoner complained: “Drugs and drink are a big problem in this prison - this prison is very short of staff that means prisoners can move drugs and drink from one unit to another.

“A number of prisoners go out on Saturday and Friday night to Ipswich and return about 3am. My view is each unit should be fenced off, if not, I can see trouble and big trouble one night.”

The public road running through the prison continues to be a liability and the public have dropped off drugs and alcohol behind bushes.

But Mr Wood stressed closed circuit television cameras were strategically placed to catch offenders.

The prison is facing the challenge of losing its farm, no longer regarded as appropriate for Hollesley Bay, and dealing with an increasing number of inmates who would not previously have been considered suitable for open conditions.

That is because the prison population is growing so quickly that there is added pressure to move inmates into category D jails, such as Hollesley Bay.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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