27th February 2020

Environment ‘Violence and self-harm’ fears at Doncaster prison

Environment ‘Violence and self-harm’ fears at Doncaster prison


environment Prison officer locking door

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The prison was “badly overcrowded with worrying levels of violence”, the report said

Hundreds of inmates are doubled up in single-occupancy cells at a “badly overcrowded” prison “with worrying levels of violence”, inspectors found.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said he was also concerned by the “increased levels of self-harm” and the number of deaths at HMP Doncaster.

Five inmates took their own lives at the prison within one year.

The Prison Service said that since the inspection a safety management team had been set up “to drive down violence”.

The privately-run Category B jail and young offender institution holds about 1,100 male criminals.

The report concluded HMP Doncaster was “badly overcrowded with worrying levels of violence and a ready availability of drugs”.

About 700 inmates – a third of whom were under 25 – were sharing cells designed to hold just one person, Mr Clarke said.

About a quarter of the inmates at the jail, which is run by Serco, are convicted sex offenders.

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Contraband items are sometimes smuggled into prisons by visitors or members of staff

Mr Clarke said: “We were very concerned by the increased levels of self-harm, and by the fact that there had been five self-inflicted deaths in the year leading up to the inspection.”

He said “tragically there was another shortly after the inspection”, which was carried out in September 2019.

A downward trend in assaults was “welcome” but levels were still higher than during the previous inspection and higher than at similar prisons, inspectors said.

The report added: “As such, it was hardly surprising that at times staff struggled to maintain control.

“The leadership and staff have worked extremely hard and their determination to succeed and generate a safe and decent environment is clear for all to see.

“Despite the problems we found during this inspection, there is good reason to hope that the establishment should be able to maintain and indeed improve its performance in the future.”

Phil Copple, director general of prisons at HM Prison Service, said: “Since the inspection a new safety management team has been put in place to drive down violence and vulnerable prisoners are being given better support.

“We recognise that crowding is a major challenge for some prisons across the estate but we are investing up to £2.5bn in an extra 10,000 places, in addition to the 3,360 places in new jails at Wellingborough and Glen Parva.”

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