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'Shocking' failings at Dartmoor prison put public at risk

HMP Dartmoor. Credit: ITV West Country

A report has found "shocking" failings by Dartmoor prison to protect the public from the risk posed by the men it releases.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons found the release of prisoners, a majority of whom were sex offenders, was "unplanned, rushed and poor", while some were released too early.

Out of around 630 prisoners at Dartmoor, 440 were there for sex offences at the time of the inspection in August, making up 70%.

The prison also failed to properly address the behaviours and attitudes of those in denial of their convictions.

Most of those released were also left either homeless or in very temporary accommodation.

UK government to improve safety in Devon prisons

The government has pledged more than £3million. Credit: ITV West Country

The government has pledged more than £3million to improve safety in Devon's prisons.

Prisons in Dartmoor, Exeter and Channings Wood are all set to benefit from the investment.

The money will go towards body-worn cameras, handcuffs and restraints.

The Prison Officers' Association have said the measures are "long overdue".

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Prison suicide rates at 'alarmingly high level'

Suicide rates behind bars remain at an "alarmingly high level" as eight people took their own lives in the West Country alone last year.

Figures show four people took their own lives in Exeter prison, while two more died in Guys Marsh in Dorset. Deaths by suicide were also recorded in Dartmoor and Erlestoke prisons.

Dartmoor Prison Credit: ITV West Country

As the number of prisoners grow annually, and chronic overcrowding and staff cuts hit systems hard, deaths by suicide have risen by 46 per cent in the last three years.

The figure is among a total of 29 people who committed suicide across the country, with a further eight prisoners killed in apparent homicides during 2015 - the highest number in a single year since current recording practices began in 1978.

No one should be so desperate whilst they are in the care of the state that they take their own life.

The numbers hide the true extent of misery for prisoners and families – and for staff, who have been given the impossible task of keeping people safe in overcrowded prisons starved of resources.

The question now for the Ministry of Justice is: what to do? This level of deaths, violence and anguish in prisons cannot continue to rise in a civilised society.

We cannot go on cramming more people into jails without any thought for the consequences.

– Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform
Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

The Howard League for Penal Reform and Centre for Mental Health, supported by The Monument Trust, are working together on a joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide in prison.

They saw around 40 per cent of prisoners who died by suicide in 2015 were on remand at the time of their deaths - despite people on remand make up only 15 per cent of the prison population at any one time.

Evidence suggests people held in prison on remand, or have been recalled while on licence, are disproportionately likely to take their own lives.

Protests planned for Tara Hudson's prison move appeal

A rally is planned to coincide with transgender woman Tara Hudson's appeal to be moved to a female prison.

The appeal will be heard at Bristol Crown Court tomorrow (Oct 30) and supporters have arranged to protest outside.

Trans woman Tara Hudson is serving in an all-male prison

Transgender woman Tara Hudson was sent to an all-male prison in Bristol after admitting to assault.

She has lived all her adult life as a woman and has undergone 6 years of reconstructive surgery. Prison authorities made the decision to send her to HMP Bristol as her passport states she's a man.

An online petition calling for Tara to be moved to an alternative facility has reached over 100,000 signatures in 3 days.

A Facebook event calling for an 'emergency protest' outside the Ministry of Justice in London has also been set up.

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