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Staff "lost control" of HMP Guys Marsh

A damning report into Guys Marsh prison in Dorset has found managers and staff "all but lost control of the prison".

An unannounced inspection by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in November 2013 found levels of violence at the jail were very high and the violence was driven by the supply of drugs.

The report found that staff had Credit: ITV News

At a time when we are seeing some overall improvement in the system, HMP Guys Marsh stands out as an establishment of great concern.

Regional managers began to take decisive action during the inspection but real risks remain and turning the prison round will take sustained support from the Prison Service nationally.

The failures of the prison at the time of the inspection posed unacceptable risks to the public, staff and prisoners and this cannot be allowed to continue.

– Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons

Report Findings:

  • levels of violence in the prison were very high and many prisoners were frightened.
  • the violence was driven by the supply of drugs, particularly synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice, which led to debts which were enforced by violence or threats of violence to prisoners or their family outside the prison.
  • there had been a number of medical emergencies associated with the consumption of Spice.
  • gangs operated openly in the prison, although security staff and managers were well focused on these challenges and worked hard to address them.
  • there were frequent ‘incidents at height’ where men climbed onto dangerously high structures in the belief that they would then be taken to the segregation unit where they would be safe.
  • some prisoners self-isolated on the wings, hiding in their cells in squalid conditions with abuse shouted through the door.
  • the high levels of bullying and debt were linked to high levels of self-harm, although care for men at risk was generally good.
  • training provision had deteriorated sharply since the last inspection and the overall effectiveness of learning and skills work was inadequate.
  • despite the fact that Guys Marsh was a training prison, only 16% of prisoners were on education or training courses.
  • the overall management of resettlement was disjointed and inadequate; and
  • offender management was exceptionally poor and arrangements for protecting the public from high-risk prisoners after release were weak.

The inspectors said the prison was short-staffed and overcrowded at the time.

The prison has responded saying it is now stable, operating safely.

Inspectors said the prison was short-staffed and overcrowded at the time. Credit: Gareth Copley/PA Wire

Inspectors visited Guys Marsh during a particularly difficult period. Changes in the population combined with a rise in the illegal trafficking of New Psychoactive drugs was fuelling gang-related violence.

The prison was not out of control and action was being taken in response to these threats - but I accept the situation at the time wasn't acceptable. Since the inspection we have worked with the police to provide extra support to the prison to tackle drug supply and gang activity - including moving perpetrators to more secure gaols as necessary.

I visited Guys Marsh myself last month. It is now stable, operating safely, and providing a consistent and decent regime for prisoners.

Staff have responded to the concerns with professionalism and the new Governor supported by his Regional Manager has a robust plan in place to achieve the sustained improvement required.

– Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service

Last prisoner leaves Gloucester Prison

The last prisoner leaves Gloucester Prison Credit: ITV News West Country

The last prisoner is due to leave Gloucester Prison later today - although the prison doesn't officially close until the end of March. The Ministry of Justice says there hasn't been a decision yet on what will happen to the site in the future.


Brian Grady found and arrested in Bristol

Brian Grady has been found in Bristol Credit: Gwent Police

Brian Grady, who escaped prison in Wales last month, has been arrested in Bristol. A man and woman have also been arrested on suspicion of assisting him.

26-year-old Grady was jailed for eleven years in July 2003 after being convicted of killing Liam Attwell in the Canons Marsh area of the city centre.

Report on Gloucester Prison 'not good overall'

Following the publishing of the report on Gloucester Prison which claimed the prison had 'stood still' since an earlier visit Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said:

Gloucester is one of the older establishments in the prison system, with a poor infrastructure and situated in a cramped inner-city location. Overall this is not a good report, with many issues and concerns we have raised in previous reports still to be addressed. Much needs to be done to raise often basic standards, including investment in the environment and the regime.

– Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons

However, Mr Hardwick went on to say that:

To a great extent a safe place, predicated on the quality of staff-prisoner relationships

– Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons

Report claims Gloucester Prison has 'many problems to address'

The report follows an unannounced inspection in July Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In today's report, Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said Gloucester Prison has many problems to address.

Inspectors were concerned during their visit in July to find that the environment for vulnerable prisoners at the Category B local prison was poor, and there was evidence that they experienced abuse and intimidation from other prisoners.

Segregated prisoners were not continually supervised, though this was mitigated by low numbers and generally brief stays, while the accommodation was among the poorest in the prison system, and prisoners did not have enough time out of their cells.

There was not enough for prisoners to do and inspectors found well over half of the population locked up during the working day.


Dorset prison criticised

Dorchester Prison has been criticised following an unannounced inspection. Inspectors found overcrowding at HMP Dorchester and that staff were complacent about prisoner safety during their visit in July.

A full inspection was carried out in 2009 and 17 recommendations were made.

Eight had not been achieved but overall the report concluded that the prison was safe with excellent staff-prisoner relationships.

HMP Dorchester has responded positively to some key findings from our last inspection but there are some enduring concerns.

– HMP inspection report