Prisoners ‘should be kept busy’

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A DONCASTER jail should provide more work and classes to keep inmates busy, a snap inspection found.

Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, said after the unannounced visit that HMP Doncaster was well-run but it needed to increase the amount of work, education and training available for prisoners.

Doncaster holds just over 1,000 remand and sentenced young and adult male prisoners, and processes 2,000 new arrivals a month, with many prisoners doubled up in cells designed for one.

From October this year the new contract for the jail run by Serco will include an element of payment by results, ensuring best value for the taxpayer by incentivising work to prevent re-offending. 

It had a zero tolerance approach to substance use and violence, enforced by a tough scheme that regulated prisoners’ entitlements according to their behaviour.

Mr Hardwick’s inspectors found the overall approach to substance misuse and violence was effective, with relatively low drug use, and prisoners reported positively on the way staff treated them.

“Incentives for good behaviour were underpinned by very good resettlement work which provided motivation for prisoners who wanted to resettle successfully when they left the prison,” he said.

“The work with families was among the best this inspectorate has seen.”

Work includes maintaining contact between dads and children.

However, inspectors had some concerns, finding there was not enough work, training or education, with the equivalent of full-time activity places for only half.

Mr Hardwick said: “Prison capacity is not simply a matter of how many prisoners can be crammed into cells - it is also a matter of whether the prison has the resources to do anything useful with them.”