Hereford & Worcester

Grange prison conditions 'deteriorated after closure news'

Hewell Grange site Image copyright Redditch Advertiser
Image caption The Hewell Grange facility was situated within a 19th Century Grade II-listed country house

Conditions at an open jail described as the worst of its kind continued to deteriorate following an announcement it would close, prison monitors said.

Shutting the Grange in Worcestershire led to "a paucity of category D places in the West Midlands", the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) also said.

But it said the prison's closure in March was "well-managed".

The Prison Service said it was pleased the board had recognised that.

In September chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said the Grange had the worst conditions of any open - or Category D - jail he had ever seen.

The following month it emerged about 200 inmates at the prison, on the site of HMP Hewell, were to be moved out.

'Brought rodents out'

Last year the Prison Service said refurbishing the Grange would "not deliver value for the taxpayer".

The new monitoring board report, for the period from October, said over six months the building "continued to deteriorate with the cessation of repairs and minimal maintenance".

Prisoners were still held in "substandard" accommodation and dismantling dormitories "apparently brought the rodent population out into unaccustomed areas".

The board also said the closure and the subsequent lack of open prisons in the West Midlands was likely to have a "negative effect on the rehabilitation and preparation for release of local prisoners".

But leadership, with "continuous focused attention" to communicating with inmates as a group and individually, had resulted in a shutting down process "remarkable for its overall uneventfulness", according to the report.

IMB chair Rodger Lawrence said: "It was a pleasure to monitor the collaborative way that the closure was managed."

A Prison Service spokesperson said four new prisons had been announced this week, "in addition to ongoing investment in estate improvements across the country and more open places".

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