THE ‘ludicrous’ system of sending Dorset inmates to prisons out of the area will not be changed, it has been announced.
As reported in the Echo, Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill and the county’s MPs had been lobbying officials to review the allocation of prison places.
People from Dorset who are convicted of crimes are sent to prisons such as HMP Exeter or HMP Channings Wood.
Places in Dorset’s two remaining open prisons – HMP Portland and HMP Guys Marsh – are for prisoners from areas such as Wiltshire. It is feared that this ‘undermines’ the chances of rehabilitation, as inmates are find themselves miles away from a support network. But following a review, the Ministry of Justice has said it will not be making changes to the system.
A spokesman added: “We have reviewed the resettlement prison network to ensure that prisoners in every area will benefit from the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms.
“The resettlement prisons for Dorset, Devon and Cornwall will be Channings Wood, Exeter, Winchester and Eastwood Park. This will provide a continuous rehabil-itative service throughout cust-ody and into the community.”
Mr Underhill said he was ‘deeply disap-pointed’ at the announcement.
He said: “The reality is that, with very few exceptions, Dorset prisoners will be housed outside Dorset, whether they are male or female, on remand or convicted. Both I and the people of Dorset struggle to understand this.
“When I was elected, Dorset had a prison estate of four prisons – HMP Portland, Guys Marsh, The Verne and Dorchester.
“With Dorch-ester now closed and The Verne designated for immigration use, 14 months later, we now have two.
“Neither of these is allowed to house Dorset people in Dorset prisons.
“It is frankly ludicrous.
“A prison has to be close to a prisoner’s community to support family links and community engagement.
“This will join up the geography of the prison estate with community provision so that voluntary sector organisations can deliver care that reflects their local needs.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, providing support to prisoners and tackling reoffending is a key part of my role.
“Both will be difficult to provide remotely. Prisoners will struggle to maintain contact with their families and the provision of local ‘through the gate’ services will be adversely affected.”
A decision as to whether HMP Portland will become a resettlement prison is ‘still pending’.
Plan for the future
Exeter and Winchester are local prisons for those on remand or serving twelve months or less.
HMP Channings Wood will normally be the resettlement prison for those sentenced to over 12 months.
Women will normally be housed at HMP Eastwood Park.
Local Prisons Offenders will go to a local prison or young offender institution first if they have just been convicted or sentenced, are on remand or waiting for their trial.
They will be given their security category here.
They will either stay there or move to another prison or young offender institution.
This depends on how long their sentence is.
If they are sentenced to twelve months or less, they will normally stay at the local prison. Local prisons are all closed prisons.
Resettlement Prisons The majority of those serving longer sentences, over 12 months, will be moved to a resettlement prison at least three months before the end of their time in custody.
The newly categorised prisons comprise 71 adult male local, training and open prisons. The resettlement prisons align with the government’s new 21 contract package areas (CPAs) across the country.