Norwich prison has 'deteriorated significantly' since 2016

Norwich Prison
Image caption A survey of inmates at Norwich Prison found that 21% of them felt unsafe, while since the last inspection six inmates had taken their own lives

A prison has been criticised by a watchdog after an inspection found that in a range of areas it was doing worse than three years ago.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Norwich found 43% of inmates thought it was easy to get illegal drugs, while 21% felt unsafe.

Managers themselves believed the prison had "deteriorated significantly" since the previous inspection in 2016.

HM Prison Service said improvements were being made.

In 2016, the jail was assessed as reasonably good for safety, respect, purposeful activity and rehabilitation, and release planning.

In an inspection in October and November 2019 the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, found all four grades had slipped to "not sufficiently good" at the 700-inmate jail.

'Violence levels high'

He also found "violence levels were high, but work to reduce violence was insufficient and poorly co-ordinated", while since the last inspection six inmates had taken their own lives..

Mr Clarke said while the complexity of the prison brought "not insignificant management challenges, the combination of facilities ought, if managed effectively, to offer real opportunities to help prisoners progress through their sentence to the point of resettlement into the local community".

"Our findings suggested that the prison still had some way to go before such a vision could be fully realised," he added.

Image caption HMP Norwich has occupied its site overlooking the city centre since 1887 and can house category B, C and D prisoners and those on remand

Phil Copple, HM Prison Service's director general for prisons, said: "Violent prisoners are now monitored more closely and given strict plans to improve their behaviour, while as part of the £100m investment in security the prison is getting an X-ray scanner to stop the flow of drugs which causes violence.

"New risk assessments have already improved safety for vulnerable prisoners and a staff buddy system is helping develop new prison officers' skills."

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