Doncaster prisoners accuse staff of racial discrimination, inspection finds

A report has been published following an unannounced inspection at HMP and YOI Moorland in Doncaster.
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Doncaster prisoners have accused some staff members of racially discriminating against them, an inspection of HMP and YOI Moorland has found.

Over a third of prisoners from ethnic minority backgrounds felt they were unsafe at the prison compared to just 14 per cent of white prisoners, according to the report.

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Following the inspection in March this year all the key indicators of a ‘healthy prison’, including safety, respect, purposeful activity, and rehabilitation and release planning, were considered ‘reasonably good’.

Improving the outcomes of and better understanding the needs of certain minority groups is listed as a key priority, after some prisoners alleged racist behaviour and discrimination from staff. 

Some 82 per cent of white prisoners said most staff treated them with respect, compared to only 52 per cent of respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds.

While relationships between staff and prisoners were largely positive, the inspection found a minority of uniformed staff to have spoken “disrespectfully and inappropriately to and about some prisoners … especially in the attitude of a few of the younger officers towards those convicted of sexual offences.”

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Over half of all prisoners were serving sentences for sexual offences at the time of the inspection.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said in April: “Moorland is a capable and well-led establishment, where managers and staff support the governors’ vision. 

“Throughout our inspection we found excellent collaborative working across departments and disciplines, as well as a supportive approach to help staff be more effective in their roles. 

“Enthusiasm, good communication and clarity of purpose were all underpinned by visible leadership. The governor and her staff should be congratulated for the progress they have made, and we have every confidence that the prison will continue to improve.”

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Other key priorities recommended by the inspection include sufficient availability of education, skills and work places, increased access to offending behaviour programmes, and more time out of cells, particularly for those not in full time work.

Most prisoners spent between four and eight hours out of their cell, depending on employment status, although this was generally less at weekends.

The rate of self-harm incidents fell significantly (61 per cent), as did use of force (50 per cent), since the 2019 inspection.

Batons were not drawn at all in the previous year.

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