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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Inspectors call for improvements at only prison in Cumbria

INSPECTORS have said Cumbria’s only jail has “some way to go” to meet targets set out following a spot visit.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons visited HMP Haverigg, dubbed the country’s “most isolated prison”, in January and have today published a report into their findings.

The last visit, in 2011, found a marked improvement from an inspection in 2009 which criticised most aspects of the jail and, while inspectors have noted some improvements, they have listed a host of areas where the jail must improve.

Inspectors found 44 per cent of inmates claimed it was “easy” to get illegal drugs while 31 per cent claimed it was easy to get alcohol in the jail – figures which were far higher than comparable category C jails.

The report revealed many inmates being transferred to Haverigg did not know where they were being taken, with prisoners complaining they were nauseous and disorientated following the journey.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said the jail had beaten the uncertainty of budget cuts and policy changes better than other prisons and had a “real sense of momentum and realistic plans” to tackle long term weaknesses. The report said most inmates are serving sentences between two and 10 years, with 208 serving two to four years and 227 serving four to 10 years, while 32 inmates are serving life sentences.

Violence and intimidation has been identified as a problem at the jail and inspectors criticised use of force by staff at the prison. Mr Hardwick said the inspection team was “shocked” at the footage available of use of force incidents and went on to add not all incidents involving violence have been investigated.

Mr Hardwick said: “Progress is being made and a positive, experienced staff group have created the foundations for further progress, but some processes need to be significantly improved and managers need to give close attention to ensuring that poor practice is challenged and improved.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said he was pleased the progress was highlighted and said the recommendations would be used as part of ongoing plans.

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