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Body-worn cameras are being trialled in prisons, according to an official report into a Nottinghamshire prison. The body cams are allocated on a risk basis, according to HM inspectors, in their report on HMP Ranby.

Nottinghamshire Police last year allocated a crime investigation officer to the prison; and a police station outside the grounds is proposed. More than half of of prisoners said it was easy to get illegal drugs; some 15pc had developed a drug problem. Intelligence suggested that the more traditional drugs were not readily available but that NPS (new psychoactive substances; not currently detectable under MDT) was by far the greatest problem. The inspectors spoke of ‘a surge in the availability’ of NPS.

Previous inspectorate reports, as featured in the February 2016 print issue of Professional Security magazine, have pointed to the threat to security and health of prisoners due to NPS, causing debts and violence. At Ranby, according to inspectors security measures ‘generally struck a sensible balance between the need to get men to activities and provide adequate supervision’. The inspectors said that they ‘saw a number of prisoners who were clearly under the influence of NPS; some had been left with other prisoners to check they did not deteriorate’. Asaults on staff had increased significantly: “In one incident, a group of prisoners muscled into a wing office to take back a ‘throw-over’ package of drugs that had just been intercepted by staff.” The prison had seen six self-inflicted deaths in custody since the last inspection.

NI report

Meanwhile a report into the high-security Category A prison in Northern Ireland, Maghaberry, found that illicit drugs and diverted medication were still readily available across the prison ‘and this was contributing significantly to issues around control and safety’.

Comments

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a terrible report on Ranby prison, which comes only 17 months after the last one and follows a long line of critical inspections of jails across England and Wales.

“As the findings of today’s report spell out, the policies of successive governments in cramming more and more prisoners into the system have left prisons unable to cope. Cuts to staff and resources, alongside complex restructuring, have now made this approach untenable.

“The Prime Minister has recognised that prisons are failing and that wholesale reform is needed. Action cannot come too soon as conditions are getting worse by the day and, in prisons such as Ranby, people are dying as a result.”

For the Ranby inspection report, visit the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website: http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons.

For the 115-page report in full visit http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/Ranby-Web-2016.pdf.

Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons Martin Lomas said: “HMP Ranby had not made sufficient progress since the previous inspection. We remain seriously concerned about the stability of the prison, the safety of prisoners and staff and the inadequate measures being taken to prepare prisoners for release and reduce the risk they will reoffend.

“The prison has already been provided with some additional staff and there is more to be done by prison managers to improve outcomes. However, the prison faces the challenge of a destabilising supply of NPS which threatens to overwhelm it. The harm caused by NPS in prisons requires a national policy. There should be an immediate temporary reduction in the population to give staff the opportunity to regroup. The prison is struggling to cope with its dual working and resettlement prison roles. The resettlement role involves a very high throughput of challenging prisoners, some of whom have little investment in the opportunities the prison offers because they are so near to their release. The prison should return to being a working prison if only so that it is able to concentrate fully on that task.”

And Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “Following September’s Inspection we have taken decisive action to support the prison in making the required improvements including; reducing the population by 120 prisoners and increasing prison staff. In addition, we have changed Ranby’s role to give it a longer sentenced, more stable prisoner population.

“NPS remains a real concern in prisons and we are introducing a new testing regime which will be rolled out across the country from April. Legislation is in place to ban so called ‘legal highs’ and we will continue to work with police to disrupt supply chains and take robust action against anyone found supplying or using NPS in prisons. There remains some way to go, but I’m confident that Ranby is now on the right track.”


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