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Friday, January 27, 2012

Bullied inmates at Wealstun 'self-harming', report says

Bullied inmates at Wealstun 'self-harming', report says

Inmates being bullied at a West Yorkshire prison are deliberately self-harming to be transferred out of jail, inspectors have warned.

Prisoners at HMP Wealstun near Leeds felt unsafe and were often bullied over drugs debts, the report said.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the jail was "clearly slipping backwards".

The National Offender Management Service said an action plan would address the weaknesses identified.

HMP Wealstun was originally two separate prisons which were brought together some years ago to form one prison with a category C and a category D side.

'Disturbing perception'

In 2008 the open prison closed and Wealstun began operating a year ago as a large category C training prison with 800 inmates.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons report noted this was a major physical and cultural change and safety had deteriorated since its last inspection.

Mr Hardwick said there were examples to support the "disturbing perception among prisoners and staff" that inmates were self-harming to try to persuade authorities to move them to another jail.

He said: "Staff and prisoners alike described a culture of managing bullying by removing the victim to the segregation unit and, in many cases, subsequent transfer out of the prison."

Inspectors also noted staff and prisoner relationships were mixed and inconsistent and action to tackle drug availability was not "sufficiently rigorous".

The report highlighted good work at the jail including excellent mental health work.

It found most prisoners had good time out of the cell and there was sufficient work, activity and training places available.

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Management Service, said: "I am pleased that the outcomes for prisoners remain reasonably good but accept that the prison needs to improve in a number of key areas."

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