Inspectors identify 'positive' progress in latest review of Dorchester Prison

Dorset Echo: IMPROVING: Dorchester prison IMPROVING: Dorchester prison

INSPECTORS have identified ‘positive’ progress in their latest review of Dorchester Prison although concerns about overcrowding remains a problem.

A number of other areas of concern were also identified in the inspection, including monitoring of incidents of violence and self harm, prisoners spending too much time locked up and low levels of staff training regarding safety.

The North Square jail came under scrutiny in 2009 when an inspection report claimed that it was overcrowded and there was insufficient activity for prisoners, although it did state Dorchester was a safe prison with excellent staff-prisoner relationships.

Earlier this year HMP Dorchester was also named as one of the top ten most overcrowded prisons in the country in a report by the Prison Reform Trust.

A follow-up inspection has commended progress in a number of concerns identified in the 2009 report, although not all areas were satisfactorily addressed.

The inspectors praised the prison’s progress on substance misuse services, health care services, education, development of a diversity strategy, public protection arrangements and a reduction in the number of prisoners released without an address to go to.

However, areas of concern included monitoring and analysis of incidents of violence and self harm, a lack of prison-wide commitment to safer custody, resettlement of young adults and prisoners still spending too much time locked up. Inspectors also noted that the prison remained very overcrowded.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick, pictured, said: “HMP Dorchester has responded positively to some key findings from our last inspection but there are some enduring concerns. The prison remains overcrowded and staff need to guard against complacency concerning prisoner safety and relationships if they are to maintain strengths of the prison.”

Chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service Michael Spurr added: “Since the last inspection, solid progress has been made at HMP Dorchester. We are committed to managing prisoners safely and the governor and his staff will continue to build on the work already in place and ensure that the areas of concern identified in the report are properly addressed.”

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