South Gloucestershire prison criticised over diversity policy

A prison in South Gloucestershire has been criticised for not looking after the needs of its minority groups.

Inspectors found that Leyhill Prison in Wotton-under-Edge had no "overarching" equality and diversity policy, and that staff lacked sufficient training.

The report showed that minority groups had less confidence in staff than white prisoners, and diversity complaints were not adequately investigated.

However, overall it was found to provide a "safe, decent environment".

Inspectors went to the open prison for an announced visit over three days in April.

'Serious shortcomings'

The report found that although there were policies in place for race, foreign nationals and older prisoners, "only the latter was of an acceptable standard".

There were also concerns that the prison's race equality officer had not received adequate training, and that investigations into "diversity incidents" had been poor.

Inspectors, however, praised the prison for providing a "safe" and "decent environment" in which to prepare prisoners for release back into the community.

Nick Hardwick, HM chief inspector of prisons, said HMP Leyhill had "carefully managed the risks involved in doing so".

However, he said: "In a generally positive picture there was scope to improve its approach in some important areas.

"And weaknesses in diversity work were a serious shortcoming that needed to be quickly addressed."

Michael Spurr, from the National Offender Management Service, said he was pleased with the overall outcome.

"The Governor and staff will now work to ensure that the issues around diversity are tackled and improvements are made in the areas highlighted," he said.

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