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'Rise in violence and drugs' at HMP Hewell

image captionThe prison was recognised for making some improvements

A prison once labelled "dirty and dangerous" has seen a rise in violence and drug use and has not tackled staff shortages, inspectors have said.

The report into HMP Hewell in Worcestershire found there had been an increase in violence both among prisoners and in attacks on staff.

But there were improvements in cleanliness, Hewell Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said.

"Persistent efforts" by staff to tackle the problems were also recognised.

Board chairman David Aylin criticised the level of drug use in the prison, especially the psychoactive substance Mamba.

'State of semi-coma'

"Men are in a state of semi-coma having taking it. Somehow, it is getting into the prison. Either being thrown over the wall, brought in by visitors, sometimes brought in by prisoners themselves."

But the prison insisted it takes a "zero tolerance" approach to drugs and said it used a range of "robust" search and security measures to detect them.

Mr Aylin also said he was concerned a number of vocational classes, known in jail as "industries", have been removed.

"Plastering and bricklaying, these used to lead to qualifications and certificates which employers would recognise."

image captionThe prison, near Redditch in Worcestershire, opened in 2008 and has about 1,000 inmates

Problems identified in the report:

  • A shortage of prison staff
  • The length of stay "behind closed doors" within cells
  • The length of time taken to recruit new staff
  • The loss of practical courses
  • The loss of prisoners' property either in transit from one prison to another or within HMP Hewell
  • A rise in violence
  • Widespread drug use

The prison, which has about 1,000 inmates, has "its share of prisoners who are a challenge to any form of control or discipline", the board said.

"Sadly, as a nationwide feature, there was a rise in violence between prisoners and attacks on staff."

In 2013, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the jail was unacceptably dirty and there were high levels of assaults.

Nigel Atkinson and Nick Dann were appointed as the new governors of both the closed and open sections of the prison last June.

The board's annual report covered December 2013 to November 2014.

image captionHMP Hewell caters for category B and D prisoners and is set in a large area of parkland

Related Topics

  • Prisons
  • HM Inspectorate of Prisons
  • Law and order
  • Redditch

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