Unannounced inspection at Stocken Prison finds it is not safe enough

HMP Stretton sign - Jonathan'SM-R022908_033js

HMP Stretton sign - Jonathan'SM-R022908_033js

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An unannounced inspection at Stocken Prison carried out just two weeks after a riot has found the prison isn’t safe enough.

HMP Stocken was inspected in June and July, and at the time, it held 672 adult men. The report, which was published on Tuesday and carried out by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, found the prison performed its training function well but other areas needed to be strengthened.

Among the concerns identified in the inspection, which took place just two weeks after a riot in which a prison officer was stabbed and a prison wing was seriously damaged, was that the number of violent incidents was high - although it had reduced over the past year.

It also found the availability of “psychoactive sybstances” was a significant factor and half of the prisoners surveyed said it was “easy to get drugs in the prison”. The prison’s Independent Monitoring Board also identified this as an issue last month and as a result IMB chairman Mike Siswick called on Prison’s Minister Andrew Selous to take action.

The inspection report, also found that poor relationships betwene uniformed staff and prisoners undermined security and that 40 per cent of prisoners said they had been victimised by staff.

However, it did note that the prison provided good work, training and education for prisoners. Highlights also included that public protection was delivered well and that care for prisoners at risk of self-harm was good.

Following the publication of the report, Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said: “HMP Stocken’s very good purposeful activity pulled the rest of the prison up and provided good outcomes for most prisoners by equipping them with the skills they needed to get and hold down a job after release.

“However, Stocken had significant weaknesses and determined efforts will need to be made to address them if they are not to threaten the prison as a whole.

“The prison is not safe enough and it has a significant drugs problem. The systems and processes in place to tackle this are mostly appropriate but their effectiveness is undermined by some poor staff attitudes.

“Prisoners with protected characteristics report more negatively than the population as a whole and much of the prison’s own monitoring data supports their concerns.

“The prison needs to respond effectively to these weaknesses if the good work it does is to be sustained.”