Union calls for prison investigation

A UNION has called for an investigation into a Suffolk prison following claims made about its safety and its treatment of offenders.

Anthony Bond

A UNION has called for an investigation into a Suffolk prison following claims made about its safety and its treatment of offenders.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) said it was “extremely concerned” following the allegations by a current prison guard at Warren Hill, at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, as well as two former employees.

The claims made to the EADT this week included that the young offenders were treated to a “holiday-camp” lifestyle, that staff morale is rock bottom and that discipline is lax with staff fearing for their safety.

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Last night, Glyn Travis, assistant secretary of the POA, said he was aware of concerns at the jail - which houses some of the country's most dangerous young offenders - and called for an investigation by the Prison Service.

He said: “One of the concerns that we have what is being reported by staff is low morale and staff shortfalls - staff are feeling very vulnerable and it is causing major problems.

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“They are not feeling safe and it is due to constant pressure to save money and concerns in the prisoner-to-staff ratio which has raised dramatically the risk of the vulnerability of staff.

“When staff say it is a holiday camp, it is because they feel they have very little control and discipline because of the shortfalls in staff numbers.”

The most recent annual report on the prison by its Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) reveals that the Prison Service had plans to merge Warren Hill with Hollesley Bay. But according to the IMB, these plans were shelved in the past few months for the immediate future.

New figures released by the Government recently have also revealed that the number of self-harm incidents by inmates have increased from an average of 17 each year between 2004 and 2007 to 80 in 2008.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “The comments by POA undermine the excellent work done by prison officers - their own members. Prison staff do a difficult and dangerous role. They do deal with violent incidents when they occur with great professionalism. They also deal with compassion with the all too many attempts by those in custody who self harm. The POA's description of prisons is out of touch with reality and does not do credit to the fine work done by its members.”

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