An inspection at a Liverpool jail has found violence and bullying has risen.
report found the number of assaults at HMP Altcourse have gone up significantly and there are issues with gangs and drugs. Education and training were praised but overall inspectors found the prison was less safe than previous years.
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- Although prisoners said they felt safe and the prison seemed calm, levels of assaults against prisoners and staff, bullying incidents and fights were high and rising sharply;
- Gang issues and the availability of drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances such as Spice and Black Mamba, were a significant factor in much of the violence and had also been the cause of hospital admissions;
- Little had been done to address the disproportionate number of young adults involved in violent incidents;
- There was little support for victims and a failure to take prompt, firm action against perpetrators;
- There was high use of segregation in poor conditions and significant numbers of those in segregation were seeking sanctuary from violence elsewhere in the prison;
- The prison was overcrowded and many cells designed for one or two held an additional prisoner; and
- Too little was done to tackle the significant need to address domestic violence offences.
However, inspectors were pleased to find that:
- The external environment was spacious;
- Prisoners spent much more time out of their cells than inspectors usually see in prisons of this type;
- Relationships between staff and prisoners were exceptionally good and there was an effective personal officer scheme;
- There was good care for prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm;
- The prison maintained very good levels of high quality activity, with a strong emphasis on maintaining a good work ethic;
- Prisoners achieved relevant qualifications and some teaching was outstanding; and
- Resettlement provision was reasonable, and most practical needs, including maintaining family relationships, were well met.
“The urgent priority for Altcourse is to reduce the high levels of violence. The prison needs to ensure it does this without damaging its longstanding strengths of positive relationships between staff and prisoners and good purposeful activity, which are critical if prisoners are to leave Altcourse with decent opportunities in order to lead law-abiding lives in the community.”
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