BOSSES at Winchester Prison have been criticised for failing to tackle violence and overcrowding.
The criticisms were made by inspectors who visited the jail because they were “seriously concerned” about it.
Their report found too little had been done to improve the prison since a damning inspection in 2012. It was seriously overcrowded and operating at 35 per cent above its certified capacity.
The report published today also states that some prisoners’ progress had been set back because they had moved jails in the middle of training courses or other work addressing their behaviour.
It also highlighted how the prison had started to hold young adults following the closure of Reading Young Offenders Institution and was struggling to manage them safely.
Measures to cut violence were “weak” and a bid to address the behaviour of bullies “ineffective”, they found.
Not enough thought was being put into managing the behaviour of the newly-arrived young adults, who, the report concludes, were over-represented in violent incidents.
The segregation unit also continued to provide an unacceptably poor environment and regime.
Inspectors singled out the management of learning and skills, the quality of provision and prisoners’ achievements as all requiring improvement.
Inspectors, who visited in February, were pleased to find that:
• relationships between staff and prisoners were much improved;
• the jail was much cleaner;
• inmates had more time out of their cells;
• there had been a major effort to reduce the availability of illegal drugs and to improve support for prisoners with substance abuse problems;
• health care services were getting better and support for at risk of self-harm was reasonable; and
• there had been much better progress on the West Hill site than on the main site.
HMP inspector Nick Hardwick said: “HMP Winchester had made progress since our very critical inspection in 2012 but the progress was slow and limited.
“The prison needs a clear focus on the basics – keeping the men it holds safe and secure, treating all of them decently and preparing them to return to the community at less risk of reoffending, with good quality activities and resettlement support.
“We will look forward to receiving their action plan in response to this report’s recommendations and will expect to see much greater progress when we return.”
Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: “As the chief inspector points out Winchester has improved its performance since the last inspection but I accept there is more to do.
“A tougher violence reduction policy is now in place and the regime provides more activity and time out of cells for prisoners.”
Mr Rogers, in a statement, said today: “The report focuses on the increased levels of violence but does not talk about the great work that we have done in improving staff/prisoner relationships. This was the focus of the last report and these have improved significantly. The previous report also talks about the availability of drugs. In the current report we are praised for our efforts around this. The report also mentions improvements in our health provision which we were criticised for previously.
“So although I am clearly disappointed there has been some very significant progress made from dedicated and professional staff.
“Since February the levels of violence in the prison have gone down by 50 per cent. We are working closely with Hampshire police to send out a clear message that violence in prisons, just like in the community will not be tolerated.”