Beds, Herts & Bucks

Grendon prison judged 'very safe' by inspectors

A pioneering "therapeutic" prison where an inmate was murdered in 2010 has been judged as "very safe" by inspectors.

HMP Grendon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was also clean and welcoming to newcomers, they found.

But they highlighted four specific concerns, including night sanitation and support for disabled prisoners.

Child sex offender Robert Coello, 44, was beaten to death in August 2010. Fellow inmate Lee Foye is serving a minimum of 35 years for his murder.

HMP Grendon tries to rehabilitate violent criminals through group therapy.

It is organised into "communities", run by staff and prisoners and inmates are given a say in the day-to-day running of the jail.

Inspectors carried out an unannounced visit in August last year.

They found "excellent" staff-prisoner relationships; that there was little need for formal disciplinary procedures and that substance misuse was well-controlled.

However, they found prisoners who were not in the "communities" and were awaiting transfer to other prisons were isolated and potentially less safe.

They also said the prison needed to improve education among inmates.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said a new national focus on treating offender personality disorders identified a clear role for the jail.

"Grendon used to be an anomaly in the prison system and its future always felt insecure," he said.

"The benefits of the new strategy have yet to be realised but there is now the real prospect that Grendon's value as an important national resource, working successfully with some of the system's most serious offenders, will be fully realised.

"It is an opportunity that should not be missed."

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: "I am very pleased that the chief inspector has acknowledged the good work being done at Grendon.

"It is a very safe prison with excellent staff-prisoner relationships and a therapeutic approach that is helping to rehabilitate a complex population."

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