Inspectors slam South Yorkshire prison

HMP Doncaster Prison.
HMP Doncaster Prison.
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Doncaster Prison has been criticised by inspectors - for locking up inmates in cells without electricity or running water for more than two days.

HMP Doncaster, which is run by private security firm Serco, was slammed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons after inspectors found its ‘performance was in decline’.

The report comes as Labour hosts a summit in Westminster today on what the party calls a ‘growing crisis in Britain’s jails’.

And it coincides with the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman reporting that an examination of the deaths of 18 to 24-year-old prisoners nationally found a fifth had experienced bullying in the month before they took their lives.

Inspectors who visited HMP Doncaster said the prison was ‘experiencing real drift’, with levels of violence in the prison found to be up to four times higher than typically seen in similar jails.

They said some ‘extremely violent’ incidents had been referred to the police.

The report also revealed some prisoners had been locked in cells with no running water or electricity for more than two days and had spent only short periods out of the cells.

Inspectors also criticised the cleanliness of the prison and revealed problems with drugs.

Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said: “Despite some positive features, Doncaster was a prison with much that had to be put right, some of it urgently.

“The prison was experiencing real drift and performance was in decline. Some staff seemed overwhelmed by the challenges confronting them and needed more support.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “Serco took immediate action in response to the inspection findings - strengthening the management team, prioritising safety and implementing a comprehensive improvement programme.

“I am confident that these actions have addressed the concerns identified by (the Chief Inspector of Prisons) but we will monitor progress closely to ensure the prison is able to deliver its regime safely and securely.”

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: “On the day that the Prisons Ombudsman reports on vital lessons that must be learned if we are to prevent further young deaths in custody, we hear from the Chief Inspector of Prisons that Serco-run HMP Doncaster is a vast, filthy, drug-ridden institution with grossly inadequate first-night arrangements and poor staff supervision where violence and self-harm are rife.

“In dangerous environments like this the weak, people who are mentally ill, those with learning disabilities and vulnerable young people, suffer the most. In under two years our prison system has become less decent, less humane and less safe.”