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HMP Oakwood: 'Steps taken to make improvements'

G4S says increased funding and task-forces are yielding results at HMP Oakwood
G4S says increased funding and task-forces are yielding results at HMP Oakwood Credit: David Jones/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S Custodial and Detention Services, said: "The mobilisation of any prison is a complex and challenging operation but the size and scale of Oakwood - the largest prison in the country - made this even more acute.

"As well as the logistical hurdles in new establishments, prisoners test the regime as well as the members of staff, who may be new to prison life.

"We have already taken steps to make improvements, appointing a dedicated task-force to address problem areas, such as the prevalence of drugs, while providing additional funding where necessary. This is starting to yield results."

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Oakwood prison report 'raises huge questions'

This is a shocking inspection report of this G4S run prison. It raises huge questions whether Oakwood prison should have been allowed to open and take prisoners when it did. There is a strong suspicion that Oakwood prison was rushed into service against the advice of officials and experts, putting safety at risk.

– Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary

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HMP Oakwood slammed by prison inspectors

HMP Oakwood had "inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm"
HMP Oakwood had "inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm" Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The biggest prison in the country, HMP Oakwood, has been slammed by inspectors.

HMP Oakwood, which can hold 1,600 prisoners, had inexperienced staff and high levels of violence and self-harm, said HM Inspectorate of Prisons following a surprise visit.

The report found that the prison, known as "Jokewood", needs to address its approach to the near-300 sex offenders it holds, many of whom were due for release without their offending having been addressed.

G4S, which runs the prison, says it has already taken steps to make improvements.

Justice Secretary: Early release 'not an automatic right'

It's outrageous that offenders who commit some truly horrific crimes in this country are automatically released from prison halfway through their custodial sentence, regardless of their behaviour, attitude and engagement in their own rehabilitation.

This Government is on the side of people who play by the rules and want to get on. We need to teach criminals a lesson; you will be punished for your crime and you must earn your release, it is not an automatic right.

– Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary

Read: Cautions for serious offences to be scrapped

Automatic early release of prisoners to be axed

Prisoners' automatic release halfway through their sentences is being axed and they will have to "earn" their early release.

Child rapists and terrorists will no longer be automatically released at the halfway point of their prison sentence, under the proposals unveiled by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said prisoner#s will have to 'earn' their release
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said prisoner#s will have to 'earn' their release Credit: Felix Kaestle

In addition, criminals who receive an Extended Determinate Sentence - where the offender receives a custodial sentence plus a further extended period of licence - will no longer be released automatically two-thirds of the way into their custodial sentence.

Primary legislation, which will be brought forward in the new year, is required for the new changes, which are expected to affect around 600 criminals a year.

Probation chief: 'Small proportion' of inmates reoffend

"A very small proportion" of offenders released on life license commit another crime, said the author of a report on how risk assessments are failing the public and prisoners.

Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank told Daybreak the "vast majority" of prisoners released on life license "re-integrate safely" and "go on to lead productive and successful lives".

However, she warned against the restrictive nature of risk assessment criteria and felt there was more to be done to assist serious offenders leaving prison.

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Temporarily freed prisoners 'inadequately risk assessed'

Life sentencing has been used to punish the most severe crimes since the suspension of the death penalty in 1965.

According to a new report from the inspection of life-sentence prisoners:

  • Life sentences are given to those guilty of murder, manslaughter and rape.
  • While whole-life tariffs are available, most prisoners will be released on parole at some point - the average time served on a mandatory life sentence in 2011 was 16 years.
  • Temporary licence allows the inmate to leave the prison for a short period of time - whether visiting a wedding or an overnight visit.
  • Prisoners who were released on temporary licence who were not being properly risk assessed, the inspection of life-sentence prisoners found.

Prisons criticised for freeing 'dangerous prisoners'

Killers and rapists are roaming the streets because of the prison service's failure to complete a full and proper risk assessment before they leave prison, a scathing new report has found.

Prisoner
Some of Britain's most dangerous criminals are going free because of a failure to compile a proper risk assessment. Credit: PA

Basic elements of risk assessments were missing, not adequately filled in or there was "confusion" over who was in charge of the report, the inspection of life-sentence prisoners found.

One unidentified prison changed its paperwork for releasing life-sentence prisoners on temporary licence so the section dealing with risk of harm to others was removed to "simplify the process".

Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank said prison governors were "not being supplied with sufficient, accurate information" and in a small number of cases nor was the Parole Board, which determines whether prisoners can be safely released into the community.

Wandsworth prison most crowded in England & Wales

According to the Howard League for Penal Reform, in England and Wales:

  • 777 prisoners were made to sleep three to a cell, when the cells are designed to accommodate only two.
  • HMP Wandsworth prison in south London was the worst prison for overcrowding - on an average day 835 inmates had to share cells with an open toilet.
  • Other overcrowded prisons were Altcourse, Doncaster, Birmingham, Pentonville, Preston, Manchester, Elmley, Nottingham and Durham

Read more: Prisoners forced into 'overcrowded' cells

Prison escort staff face police investigation for fraud

Staff at private security giant Serco face a police investigation after the Government uncovered potentially fraudulent behaviour in the management of its £285 million prison escorting contract.

A Serco prison van leaving prison. Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Serco employees allegedly recorded prisoners as having been delivered ready for court - a key performance measure for the contract - when in fact they were not, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

The contract, which covers prison transfer services in London and East Anglia, has been put under administrative supervision with immediate effect.

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