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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Lost keys at Cumbria jail costs more than £30,000

LOST keys have landed Cumbria prison bosses with a five-figure bill after a staff slip-up prompted hundreds of locks to be replaced.

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MISTAKE The Ministry of Justice said the keys were lost at HMP Haverigg due to ‘human error’ JON GRANGER

Figures released to the Evening Mail following a freedom of information request have shown a single set of keys lost at HMP Haverigg in May has set the jail back £30,450.

The lost keys, which were later recovered, prompted the jail to change 410 locks and issue 500 new keys as a security precaution.

It is understood the keys were reported as lost on May 6 before being found at the site.

Bosses conducted an internal investigation following the incident.

A spokesman for HMP Haverigg said: "As a security precaution a number of locks at HMP Haverigg were changed following the loss of a set of keys. This was an isolated incident and there was never any risk to the public. Incidents like this are extremely rare. We always investigate them thoroughly and update our security measures accordingly.”

The prison announced a recruitment drive earlier this month and hopes to take on around 10 new prison officers after staff were drafted in from across the region.

The bill will come as a blow to the prison’s budget with the average starting salary of officers being between £18,000 and £19,000. For the financial year 2009/10 the prison had a budget of around £14.4m but by the 2012/13 financial year it had been cut to £12.9m.

Despite the major programme of lock replacement and the hundreds of new keys being issued it is understood no high security exits were included.

The Ministry of Justice said the prison gates were not affected by the blunder. The jail’s 644 inmates are deemed low risk by MoJ guidelines, placing them as category C and D – the lowest on the scale.

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