Cons in riot jail felt threatened

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ARRANGEMENTS at Moorland Prison in the run-up to three nights of riots have been slated by inspectors.

Very poor staff/prisoner relationships and a failure to act on security reports threatened the jail’s ability to hold prisoners safely, shortly before three nights of disturbances, says the document published today.

The prison, which holds more than 400 men and young offenders, suffered significant damage during a series of riots in November last year which led to a significant loss of places.

Inspectors who surveyed inmates shortly before the disturbances, and visited the prison afterwards, said they found very poor staff /prisoner relationships, a failure to use intelligence to identify trends, and weak resettlement provision for offenders.

Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, said when put together the problems threatened the prison’s ability to hold inmates safely and securely while working to reduce the likelihood of their reoffending on release.

He said: “Although this report does not explain why the disturbance took place - and certainly does not excuse it - it does describe what was happening in the prison before and after those events.”

One in three prisoners surveyed felt threatened and intimidated by staff and the culture was too punitive and restrictive, with insufficient attempt to tackle any underlying issues, he said.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said the governor and staff had worked to improve staff/prisoner relations since the inspections.

He said: “I recognise the concerns raised by the chief inspector, but also welcome the positive aspects in the report.”

Work to reduce drug use, self harm and violence were all praised in the report.

Rick Midgley, secretary of the jail’s branch of the Prison Officers Association, felt some criticism in the report was unfair.

He said: “One of the criticisms is that the cells are scruffy and covered in graffiti.

“That is down to the inmates, not the people running the jail.

“Much of the report is based on asking prisoners their views. If you ask prisoners if they like being in prison, what are they going to say?

“But staff / prisoner relationships can be a difficult thing, and I would dispute they are as bad as they say, but we will address anything we can.”