Improvement Still Required At Wolverhampton Prison

18 February 2015, 08:32

A charity says a West Midlands Prison which was named as one of the worst in the country in 2013 still isn't good enough.

Inspectors say even though HMP Oakwood has improved since they went in 2 years ago, there are still high levels of bullying and some violence there.

A high number of self harm incidents were also recorded and the numbers of prisoners receiving support for being at risk of suicide or self-harm was high.

There were no self inflicted deaths at Oakwood during the period of the latest report though.

There were positives too including the prison being much calmer and support for prisoners with drug problems being very good.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said: "HMP Oakwood has turned the corner. There is more to do but the determined way the director and staff have made improvements following significant criticism should be acknowledged.

"However, the difficulties Oakwood and other new prisons experienced immediately after opening resulted in unacceptable risks and very poor outcomes for the prisoners held at that time.

"There are plans to open a number of large establishments in the coming years.

"I recommend that Ministers undertake and publish a review of the difficulties Oakwood and other new prisons experienced after they opened, and ensure that lessons learned are factored into plans for the opening of other new establishments.

The Howard League for Penal Reform were less impressed though and are calling for the jail only opened three years ago to be shut.

Their Chief Executive Frances Crook said: "The powers-that-be seem to be living in a wonderland where there is no recognition that there are still safety problems in Oakwood.

"Thousands of people have gone through the prison. Many have come out more dangerous and even acquired a drug addiction.

"Oakwood only opened in 2012, but the years of failure will have created thousands of extra victims and the powers-that-be are ignoring the plight of those victims.

"We are told that lessons are learned but every single private prison ever opened has started with huge problems and some both continue to have, and to cause, huge problems."

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