Stoke & Staffordshire

Violence at Werrington youth jail 'too high'

Levels of violence at a young offenders' institution in Staffordshire are still too high, with many inmates feeling unsafe, inspectors say.

Despite a reduction in the number of assaults at HMP Werrington, compared to 2013, inspectors were still concerned about the number of violent incidents.

Their report said living conditions and education had improved and the number of self-harm incidents had reduced.

The institution can hold up to 160 boys, aged between 15 and 18.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said there were 100 inmates at the time of the inspection last September.

'Serious injuries'

He said "important advances" had been made since the previous inspection but "levels of violence are still too high" with 37% of inmates reporting they had been hit or kicked.

"The number of fights and assaults had reduced slightly but it was concerning that the overall level of violence remained high and many children reported feeling unsafe."

"Most incidents were relatively low level but some resulted in serious injuries."

He said the boys had good access to a wide range of healthcare but the space available to separate individuals who were in conflict was limited.

Although much of the prison remained "austere and institutional", accommodation had improved significantly, he added.

Overall he said Werrington was a "well-run establishment" and inspectors were mostly encouraged by what they saw.

Andrew Neilson, from the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the report was relatively positive and was "perhaps a reflection of the fact that this is a prison which is only two-thirds full".

"We are still concerned however that children report feeling unsafe, with high levels of violence and an increase in the use of force by staff.

"Whatever improvements in regime have been made, prisons like Werrington are no place for a child under the age of 18."

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