Oxford

HMP Bullingdon 'a safer place' since new staff increase

HMP Bullingdon
Image caption HMP Bullingdon houses 1,050 adult and young adult prisoners

A prison has become a safer place and overcome previous staff shortages, the prisons watchdog has found.

In 2017, the HM Inspectorate of Prisons reported that HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire had a drug, gang and violence problem.

But following a recent inspection its assessments of safety and respect rose from "not sufficiently good" to "reasonably good".

The resettlement prison houses 1,050 adult and young adult prisoners.

Peter Clarke, HM chief inspector of prisons, said it previously struggled "to deliver even basic services", but that an "injection of new staff had arrived".

He said their presence "was contributing to the prison being under control".

However, some prisoners were sharing one-person cells and about 400 cells were "cramped and overcrowded", Mr Clarke said.

The report said violence had risen since 2015 but had reduced in recent months, with levels lower than at comparable prisons.

Mr Clarke said while illicit drugs were harder to obtain, more than half of the prisoners "believed it was easy to get hold of them" and about one in five had developed a drug habit.

But the inspector said overall, despite some "very serious issues", Bullingdon had made "significant improvements".

Analysis

By Nikki Mitchell, BBC South Home Affairs Correspondent

After a significant recruitment drive, HMP Bullingdon's "chronic staff shortage" is over, but it achieved only about half of the recommendations in the 2017 report.

There isn't enough work for all of the prisoners, too few are properly assessed, and the supervision of high risk prisoners is inadequate.

One of the recommendations is that prisoners should not be in overcrowded conditions, and yet the government is proposing the most serious offenders spend more time in prison.

Also, the vast majority of prisoners are on short sentences, so the turnover is huge, making education and effective rehabilitation highly challenging.

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