HMP Garth: Increase in violence at ‘unsafe’ jail, report says

A prison in Lancashire has been described as “very unsafe” following an increase in violent incidents and attacks on staff. “Violence and drugs” dominated life at HMP Garth in Leyland, according to a report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. The Category B men’s prison was inspected in January. The report said “progress” had been made in some areas, such as mental health provision and education. It also said staff shortages had improved following a previous inspection in August 2014.
However, inspectors raised the following concerns:
•    Levels of violence had increased “substantially”, with many incidents linked to drugs, gangs and debt
•    Assaults on staff had increased and much of the violence was “serious”
•    Living conditions were “very poor” in the segregation unit and staff were “overwhelmed”
•    85 prisoners (in addition to sex offenders) were held separately because of fears for their safety
•    The prison had a drug problem, even though security was effective and tackling the supply of drugs was improving
•    Some staff lacked confidence or were dismissive or disengaged, meaning some poor prisoner behaviour went unchallenged.
Positive findings included prisoners being “prepared to engage positively”, with a “reasonable” time spent out of their cells and good learning and skills provision. High-risk prisoners were served well by some “very good offender management work”, the report said, and public protection work was “good”.  Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “This was an unusual inspection of contrasting and conflicting outcomes.  “The progress in rehabilitative work was real and speaks to the potential this establishment has.  “The prison was, however, one of the most unsafe we have been to in recent times. Violence and drugs dominated the prisoner experience.”
Michael Spurr, chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “As the chief inspector points out, there is much good work being done at HMP Garth but the deterioration in safety is a serious concern and reversing this is the top priority.  “An experienced senior management team has been appointed to work alongside a new governor to help drive progress over the coming months.

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