Dorset

Guys Marsh prison criticised in follow-up inspection

HMP Guys Marsh
Image caption The pre-announced HMIP inspection of Guys Marsh was carried out in December

Little progress has been made tackling violence and drug taking in a Dorset jail, the prison watchdog has found.

A HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) report in 2015 called HMP Guys Marsh near Shaftesbury a "prison in crisis".

A follow up-inspection said the lack of improvement was "very disappointing", with assaults on staff having tripled and levels of drug use remaining high.

The prison service said more resources would be provided to tackle its "deep-seated challenges".

Guys Marsh is a category C training and resettlement prison which holds around 550 adult male prisoners.

It made headlines in 2016 when pictures of inmates with smuggled takeaways appeared on social media.

The pre-announced HMIP inspection carried out in December "found failings in almost every area", and concluded the prison "remains unsafe".

The report highlighted prisoners "self-isolating" for weeks or months for their own protection.

It said illegal drugs were seen as easily available with widespread use of Spice and it recorded that three inmates had taken their lives since 2015.

'Public at risk'

Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform said: "How bad does it have to get before the government takes action?

"The public are being put at risk, people are dying in the prison and staff are in danger. People are being released back into the community are actually being made more dangerous."

Michael Spurr, chief executive of Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) said an extra 18 prison officer posts are being created at Guys Marsh.

"Progress has been much slower than required, reflecting the deep-seated challenges.

"A new, experienced governor has taken charge at the prison. An improvement plan is in place and we will use the recommendations in this report to drive further progress over the coming months."

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