Drugs and violence rife at prison near Rugby - The Rugby Observer

Drugs and violence rife at prison near Rugby

Rugby Editorial 21st Mar, 2019   0

A ‘VICIOUS circle of drugs and violence’ is making a prison near Rugby ‘fundamentally unsafe’, inspectors have found.

A report into conditions at HMP Onley also revealed dead rats in wall cavities left an ‘intolerable’ smell in some cells.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said he was disappointed to find the prison was still unsafe, having assessed it as ‘poor’ at the previous inspection in 2016 – with only five of 18 safety recommendations having been achieved since then.

When inspectors visited last November, they found not enough was being done to obstruct the flow of drugs into the jail, leading to violence, debt, bullying and health emergencies.

Violence was higher than at similar prisons, with assaults on staff having more than doubled since 2016.

Recent attempts to control a rat infestation had left vermin dying in wall cavities and vents.

The report also found the training prison did not have enough activity places for the population, with only 50 per cent of prisoners engaged in an activity at any one time, and nearly 40 per cent locked in their cells during the working day.

Mr Clarke said the failure to deal with drugs and violence undermined other aspects of prison life.

He said: “There was a vicious circle where fear, frustration and boredom increased the demand for drugs, which in turn fuelled the violence.

“Health care, education, training, industry and offender management leading to release were all areas where there was some very good provision.

“Sadly, Onley will fail to fulfil its role as a training and resettlement prison until it can deal with the inextricably linked blights of drugs and violence.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said tackling drugs and violence at Onley was top priority.

He said: “Significant efforts have been made to drive improvement, including a major recruitment drive along with additional security measures, while a new drug recovery unit is due to open this spring.”

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Onley’s story typifies the disorder that exists within our troubled prison system.

“Ministers have rightly identified that we must ease pressure on prisons like Onley. Ultimately, reducing the number of prisoners is the key to saving lives, protecting staff and making the public safer.”

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