HMP Guys Marsh: Violence and drug use cut at 'concerning' prison

HMP Guys Marsh
Image caption HMP Guys Marsh has reduced levels of violence by 39%

A prison where drugs were smuggled in stuffed inside dead rats has made "impressive progress" to tackle high levels of violence and substance abuse, according to a report.

HMP Guys Marsh, in Dorset, was now much safer, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke found.

However he said concerns remained over purposeful activity and investigations into the use of force by staff.

The Prison Service said it was pleased with the jail's improvements.

Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption Dead rats were used to smuggle drugs into the prison in March

In a previous inspection in January, Mr Clarke said the prison had high levels of violence "driven by drug use and debt".

A follow-up inspection found violence had reduced by 39%, due to "improved joint working" and intelligence.

The percentage of positive drug tests had dropped from 27% to 8% in 10 months, the Independent Review of Progress report said.

Mr Clarke said an exercise yard had been closed to deter drugs from being thrown over the prison wall and incoming post was being photocopied to cut off the supply of drug-impregnated paper.

Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption The rats contained mobile phones and a "large amount" of drugs

In March, the jail reported that dead rats had been thrown over the walls, with drugs and mobile phones sewn inside.

However Mr Clarke said a large group of prisoners had chosen not to engage with education, skills or work.

The chief inspector added: "The amount of time out of cell remained poor, with nearly a third of prisoners locked up during the working day."

Mr Clarke said the use of force by staff had reduced by a third but incident reports lacked detail.

He said it was "disappointing" that a prison with a "recent concerning history" had made sufficient progress in only four out of 13 areas highlighted for improvement.

In a statement, the Prison Service said: "We are pleased inspectors found there has been impressive progress in reducing violence and drug use.

"The prison has recruited more staff and offenders who want to make use of new work and training opportunities which have been made available can now have more time out of their cells."

HMP Guys Marsh, near Shaftesbury, is a Category C men's training prison for up to 454 inmates serving a range of sentences, most of them long-term.

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