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Prisons to become places where 'lives are changed'

Prisons no longer 'warehouses for criminals Credit: PA

The biggest shakeup of prisons since Victorian times will see two of the region's jails leading the way as the country's first autonomous Reform Prisons.

Kirklevington Grange in North Yorkshire and Ranby jail in Nottinghamshire are two of six prisons where governors are to be be given unprecedented freedom to manage their own financial and legal affairs, such as how the prison budget is spent and whether to opt-out of national contracts.

The announcement of the six trailblazer sites in London, the East Midlands and North East, including one of Europe's largest prisons - HMP Wandsworth - means that more than 5,000 offenders will be housed in Reform Prisons by the end of this year.

The Prisons Bill is the centrepiece of a new one-nation Government programme.

This is a One Nation Queen's speech from a One Nation Government. It sets out a clear programme of social reform, so we break down the barriers to opportunity and extend life chances to all. And nowhere is that reform needed more than in our prisons.

For too long, we have left our prisons to fester. Not only does that re-inforce the cycle of crime, increasing the bills of social failure that taxpayers must pick up. It writes off thousands of people.

This is a Government, and this is a country, that sees the best in all, and wants to give everyone the chance to rise up and make the most of themselves.

So today, we start the long-overdue, long-needed change that our prisons need. No longer will they be warehouses for criminals; they will now be places where lives are changed.

– Prime Minister David Cameron

Chief Inspector describes prison as 'frightening' after report into safety

Inspectors say they are very concerned about safety at a prison in North Nottinghamshire where four people have died in the past year.

The report into conditions at Ranby Prison, near Retford, found high levels of violence and serious problems with prisoners self-harming.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick described the prison as "frightening":

The National Offender Management Service says the prison governor at Ranby has taken action to address the concerns raised in the report and significant progress has been made since the inspection.


Prison nurse struck off after affair

A prison nurse from West Yorkshire who had an affair with a convicted rapist at a top security jail has been ordered to be struck off the register.

HMP Wakefield Credit: Press Association

Karen Cosford had a relationship lasting several months with Brian McBride, who was serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison, and was jailed in 2012 for three years.

She denied all charges but was found guilty of misconduct by engaging in a sexual relationship with an inmate. She was also found guilty of failing to tell prison authorities that McBride had a mobile and bringing in top-ups on behalf of the prisoner.

Cosford, of Normanton, who worked in the jail's medical centre, claimed McBride raped her then intimidated her so she would not report it.

But jurors at Leeds Crown Court rejected the claim after hearing how she became inappropriately close to McBride and struck up a sexual relationship.

Progress made at Wetherby YOI

We've been given exclusive access to a young offenders unit which two years ago drew damning criticism from prison inspectors who said they "feared for all its inmates."

In 2012 Wetherby Young Offenders Unit was censured for the vulnerability of the young people held there, but a new report shows progress has been made.

Although there's still concerns about group attacks and self-harming, the unit is working with its inmates to improve standards.

Michael Billington reports on the life of teenagers behind bars.

Wetherby prison "manages well" according to report

HMP & Young Offenders Institute Wetherby manages a challenging population well, according to a report by Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons.

The findings come after an unannounced inspection of the Yorkshire young offender institution.

Outcomes for young people were reasonably good or better across all four healthy prison tests: safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Prison protest in Northallerton

Prison staff held a protest in Northallerton today. The prison is due to close, with the loss of almost 200 jobs. The Government wants to close four prisons in total, in favour of two new high-capacity 'superjails'.

Staff are being offered relocation, but with the nearest jail over an hour away, it's feared many will have little choice but to choose redundancy.


Prison staff fear redundancies

Staff have held a protest outside Northallerton Prison which is to close with the loss of almost 200 jobs. The Government wants to close four prisons in total, in favour of two new high capacity 'superjails'.

Staff are being offered relocation, but with the nearest jail over an hour away, it's feared many will have little choice but to choose redundancy. The Union leader held an open meeting early this morning and our correspondent Rachel Bullock was there:

Statements from POA

Once again the Ministry of Justice has paid lip service to the well-being and stability of the professional men and women working in an overcrowded and violent environment. The POA has worked with this Government in its attempt to save money and stopping wholesale privatisation, but prison closures will do nothing for the morale of prison officers. The Government claim to have around 4,000 space headroom, this is only spin and not accurate.

– POA General Secretary Steve Gillan

The announcement today is short sighted and will have a significant impact on the public sector prison service. Prison officers and their families will once again face the uncertainly of where they will be working in the future. The Government prison closure policy is cuts driven and does nothing for the rehabilitation revolution. These prisons have played a pivotal role in the criminal justice system and this announcement is an absolute disgrace.

– POA chairman Peter McParlin
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