HMP Hewell violence 'far too high', inspection report says
Levels of violence at a jail once branded "dirty and dangerous" are still "far too high", the watchdog has said.
There were 49 fights, 47 assaults on staff and 159 assaults on inmates in a six-month period at HMP Hewell near Redditch, HM Inspectorate of Prisons said.
Inspectors also found overcrowded cells, broken toilets, and said drug availability was "high".
However, it described the open section of the jail as "successful".
HMP Hewell, near Redditch, has a closed jail holding more than 1,000 adult male prisoners and an open facility with 200 inmates.
'Urinate in cups'
Referring to the closed site, the report found "very poor" conditions in its segregation unit.
But National Offender Management Service chief executive Michael Spurr said: "I'm pleased that the chief inspector has acknowledged the progress at Hewell which is to the credit of the former governor, his deputy and their team.
"There remains more to do, particularly on safety, but the strong foundations that are now in place will allow the prison to address the recommendations in this report and drive further improvement over the coming months."
Inspectors said they discovered broken toilets and sinks, and damaged flooring.
"We found one cell with live bare wires protruding from the wall and a broken toilet that was leaking so badly that the occupant felt forced to urinate in paper cups," they said.
Previous reports on HMP Hewell
2013 - Branded "dirty and dangerous". Levels of violence found to be far higher than at similar prisons
2014 - Incidents of self-harm and bullying found to be high
2015 - The prison's Independent Monitoring Board finds an increase in violence and drug use
Four prisoners had taken their own lives since the last inspection in 2014, and levels of self-harm among inmates had increased.
The site was praised in areas, including "reasonably good" staff-prisoner relationships, and inspectors said the management team was "focused and committed" at the time of the announced inspection last August and September.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said improvements were found in many areas, and there were examples of good practice.
"Nevertheless, very big challenges - operationally, managerially and in terms of resources - were still to be addressed and outcomes for too many prisoners on the closed site were very poor," he said.
Andrew Neilson of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it was "alarming" that recommendations made since the last inspection, which recorded one murder and six suicides, had not "been implemented with sufficient rigour".
"No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they take their own life," he said.
He said the report was the latest in a long line that made clear the need for "urgent reform" of the prison system.