Following a report into the safety standards at Lincoln Prison, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has said the report is "very concerning".
HMP Lincoln has some strengths it can build on. However, this was undermined by a serious lack of professionalism in many areas that compromised safety and the smooth running of the prison. Some of this required further investigation and action by the Prison Service nationally.
– Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons
Mr Hardwick also said that inspectors would make a follow-up visit to the prison shortly and set out where and how improvements could be made.
A new report by Inspectors from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has found 'serious failings' at the category B Lincoln jail, after inspectors arrived unannounced at the prison back in August.
During the visit, inspectors were told by prisoners that it was easy to get drugs and alcohol in the jail and there was clear evidence of inmates developing drug addictions while the instance of fighting and assaults was also high.
The prison was also criticised for the amount of time prisoners were kept locked in their cells.
A newly-built academy at the jail aimed at getting prisoners working was found to be almost empty, and prison staff were unable to say why this was the case.
Prison inspectors have produced a report into the safety standards of Lincoln jail, which was published just days after it was saved from the axe.
The authors of the report said staff morale was poor and prisoners' welfare was being place at risk. However, the report did acknowledge speculation over the prison's future which meant some of its problems were outside the prisons direct control.
The jail has been holding 50% more prisoners than it was certified to hold and the report also discovered that a foreign national prisoner has been incarcerated for nine years after the date his sentence originally ended.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney says he has had talks with the Ministry of Justice about its ongoing review of the city's prison which could result in the site being closed or turned into an immigration removal centre.
He is urging those conducting the review to retain the prison in its current state.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney says he has had several discussions this week about the future of the city's prison following reports that it is under review but says he understands no decisions have yet been made.
Currently, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is in the early stages of a limited restructuring process for the country's prisons and I have been reassured that no hard-and-fast decisions whatsoever have been made as yet, especially in relation to our prison in Lincoln. The department are considering a number of changes across the whole prison system, right across the country and if the MoJ do propose any changes to the role that Lincoln Prison currently provides, then they will consult with both me, and interested parties locally.
The Prison Service has confirmed that it is reviewing the future of Lincoln Prison but insists no decisions have yet been made about its future and that there are currently no plans to close the site.
We are considering changes to the future role of HMP Lincoln. No decisions have been made and there are currently no plans to close the prison. We are committed to ensuring our estate meets the needs of the prison population and best suits the current capacity. Any changes to the role of HMP Lincoln would also need to incorporate the ongoing requirement to deliver prisoners to and from the area's courts.
Lincolnshire County Council says it understands plans are being discussed that could see Lincoln Prison closed.
The Ministry of Justice is carrying out a review of jails and is considering the future of the site on Greetwell Road which, if it remains open, could be downgraded to a category C site.
A final decision on the future of the prison is expected to be announced over the next ten days. While that review carries on, the leader of Lincolnshire County Council has written to the Justice Minister Chris Grayling to voice his opposition to the change.
There's a real need for a prison in Lincoln. It's essential for driving down re-offending rates and making sure justice is delivered locally. If we lost the prison, there would also be significant impact on the county economy.
– Leader of lincolnshire county council, cllr martin hill