South East Wales

Cardiff prison stable but needs to tackle drugs, report says

HMP Cardiff Image copyright Robin Drayton/Geograph

Cardiff prison needs to tackle its drug problem but is stable despite "challenging times", a report has said.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke published his findings following unannounced inspections.

Challenges included staff shortages and increased use of new psychoactive substances, leading to more "unpredictable and violent behaviour".

But inspectors also found good staff-prisoner relationships and a "good range" of training and education.

Despite safety declining since 2013, Mr Clarke described it as a "mixed picture of progress".

There were 770 inmates at the time of the inspections in July and August, despite the Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA) level - how many prisoners can be held safely and decently - being 532.

Other positives in the report included an improvement in resettling prisoners after release, but it found some cells were in a poor state and there was a lack of bedding.

'Positive regime'

The report said: "Despite these challenges, it did not feel unstable and staff-prisoner relationships had been maintained."

Head of the National Offender Management Service, Michael Spurr, said: "Despite significant operational pressures the prison has continued to deliver a positive regime with good levels of purposeful activity and effective support of prisoners before release."

But campaign group, the Howard League for Penal Reform, described it as an "overcrowded and understaffed prison where it is easy to get drugs but much harder to get clean bedding".

The recently-introduced smoking ban was described as "unpopular with some".

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: "This inspection report on Cardiff prison is slightly better than reports on other prisons which we have seen of late, but still it raises considerable cause for concern."

Responding to the report, Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said: "This report makes clear that there are huge areas of concern for Cardiff prison and these can be added to the long list of wake up calls to the Prisons Minister.

"Urgent action by the government is needed."

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