Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Moorland Prison criticised over handling of sex offenders

Moorland Prison in Doncaster
Image caption Sex offenders make up about a third of the population of Moorland Prison

An unannounced inspection of a South Yorkshire prison has led to "serious concerns" over its handling of sex offenders.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons found evidence of bullying at HMP Moorland, and "limited provision for the third of prisoners who were sex offenders".

A report said it had made progress since 2010, when there were riots, but "there remained much to do".

Serco is expected to take over management of the prison this year.

Inspectors said Moorland had faced "considerable change and uncertainty" over the last three years.

In November 2010 parts of the prison were damaged during three days of rioting. The facility was then expanded in 2011, which the report said was "followed by the introduction of over 300 sex offenders and 250 foreign national prisoners".

Moorland is part of a cluster of South Yorkshire prisons - along with Hatfield and Lindholme - due to transfer into the private sector this year.

"With the high number of sex offenders, the lack of any sex offender treatment programmes was a serious concern," the report said.

It added that not enough priority was given to learning, skills and work, while 35-40% of prisoners "were unemployed or failed to attend their place of work or learning".

'Dangerous and intimidating'

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said: "We found that Moorland had made some progress and was dealing with considerable uncertainties. That said, the pace of progress was disappointing and there remained much to do, some of it fundamental.

"The need to deal with these problems, and improve outcomes for prisoners, should not be lost in the transit to the private sector."

Andrew Neilson from the Howard League for Penal Reform said: "Moorland is still a dangerous and intimidating place. Almost a fifth of prisoners feel unsafe and there are high levels of victimisation and bullying.

"Perhaps most concerning is the fact that, although one in three prisoners at Moorland has been convicted of a sexual offence, the prison failed to offer a single course designed to tackle that behaviour."

Moorland Prison is 10 miles from the centre of Doncaster, and is a category C training prison with a capacity for 1,006 inmates, including young offenders.

The inspection was carried out in December.

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