Dartmoor Prison 'could stagnate', inspectors find

HMP Dartmoor Staff and managers need "greater certainty" about the future of HMP Dartmoor, the report found

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Dartmoor Prison could stagnate because of the uncertainty over its future, the Chief Inspector of Prisons said after an unannounced inspection.

Nick Hardwick's report said staff at the Devon jail could become "paralysed by the things over which they have little control".

The report found safety is being compromised because drugs and alcohol are too easily come by.

The prison has a 10-year notice period ahead of a possible closure.

'In denial'

Inspectors recorded that prisoners said they felt unsafe, levels of victimisation were high and there are sloppy processes on the true levels of violence.


  • HMP Dartmoor was established in 1809
  • Ministers announced negotiations would take place with the Duchy of Cornwall, which owns the prison, about its closure in 2010
  • There is a notice period of 10 years and a possibility the prison will continue to operate for years to come

Inspectors also found some cells were very small, some roofs leaked badly and were damp.

The report said following the closure of other prisons, Dartmoor holds a large population of sex offenders with many judged to be in denial of their offence and there was no provision for them.

Mr Hardwick said there is "a risk that staff and managers at HMP Dartmoor become paralysed by the things over which they have little control" including the uncertainties over the prison's future, the state of the buildings, the prison's location and the make-up of the population it holds.

He said "this becomes an excuse for not addressing the things they can change".

Inspectors also found good and improved relationships between staff and prisoners and most men enjoyed time out of their cells.

The education, training and work environment was "impressive" and the quality of what was provided was "good".

Mr Hardwick said staff "should now focus on reducing levels of violence, building on the improvements made to education, training and work, tackling the backlog of risk assessments and ensuring an effective strategy is in place to deal with the sex offender population".

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