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Report on Portland Prison Still Finds Problems

Justice System

8:25am 26th August 2014

The report is for the 12 months up to the end of March this year, in which time there were two different governors, and the prison had to adapt to new ways of working in a tough financial environment.

The board says it’s impressed with prison management and officers' positive attitude but recognises the workload on the reduced number of uniformed staff is greater and more stressful. It also praises the mental health team, which it says, does as good a job as it can under the circumstances.

But they say many adult and young offenders’ prisoners had to go without regular formal activities at workshops or in education, and therefore spent much of their time locked up.  At many times during the reporting year, more than half of the inmates had no activity allocated.  The prison service's contract with Weston College to provide education and activities is not working as was intended.

There was an increase of illegal drugs on the Wings (probably a consequence of the greater number of adult prisoners) but also of substances which are not illegal but when consumed to produce "highs" lead to unpredictable and sometimes violent behaviour. Trading of these substances and of illegal drugs led to debt and bullying, both of which appear to have increased during the reporting year.

Several improvements have been effected, notably a new Working Day regime (at the end of the reporting period); a central area for informal exercise and association outdoors, which has provided more fresh air and moderate exercise for inmates and more drug and alcohol treatment interventions.  The introduction of fines for causing damage has reduced cell-smashing.

The full Report is available to be read on http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/corporate-reports/imb/annual-reports-2014/portland-2013-14.pdf.

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