South East Wales

Bridgend's Parc Prison to ban inmates smoking in cells

Inside Parc prison
Image caption G4S said Parc Prison is now the largest prison in the UK with a capacity of 1,700

A privately-run prison in Bridgend county is to ban smoking by February 2016, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

The decision follows High Court action launched by a non-smoking inmate at Parc Prison who said sharing cells with smokers was making him unwell.

In 2007 smoking was banned in enclosed places but prison cells were exempt.

During the hearing, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) accepted that privately-run prisons could not claim exemption.

Parc Prison is run by G4S and has more than 1,000 inmates, remand prisoners and young offenders.

A second case, due to be heard by the Court of Appeal, will test whether prisons operated by the prison service are able to claim exemption.

An MoJ spokesman said: "We are committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff, visitors and prisoners and have introduced a number of precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to second hand smoke.

"Not only is this better for the health of our prisoners, but for the health of staff who work in this environment.

"We are continuing to consider how to reduce the prevalence of smoking across the prison estate, including through the use of electronic cigarettes."

The Welsh government backed the decision to ban smoking at Parc Prison.

A spokesperson for Welsh ministers added: "With regard to the use of e-cigarettes in prisons, the statement of policy intent for the Public Health (Wales) Bill makes it clear there is no intention to entirely restrict the use of nicotine inhaling devices in prisons in Wales."

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