Essex

Chelmsford Prison: Assaults on prison staff double

HMP Chelmsford
Image caption HMP Chelmsford saw assaults on staff double in 12 months

Assaults on staff have doubled at a prison that has seen five deaths over the past year, a report has revealed.

Force had been used 420 times to subdue fights and attacks on staff at HMP Chelmsford in the past 12 months - twice the amount recorded in 2017.

Self-harm and widespread use of drugs are also problems, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report said.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it was working to reduce drug use and violence in the prison.

Five prisoners died during the year, and the board highlighted significant shortages in healthcare as a problem.

Failures in rehabilitation were shown by only 38% of prisoners having a permanent place to live on release, and only 25% a job offer.

The IMB called on the prisons minister Rory Stewart to ensure prisoners were released with somewhere to live.

Only five of the nine posts on the resettlement group were filled and of these, four were uniformed staff often called to other duties, the report added.

Image caption Five prisoners died in the 12 months to August 2018 at Chelmsford prison

The widespread availability of drugs and bullying due to subsequent indebtedness was a major cause of violence, the report said.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The prison is working closely with the police and healthcare providers to tackle the supply and use of drugs and to reduce violence at the prison.

"Specialist training has been introduced to help staff identify, monitor and support vulnerable offenders, and an extra 60 prison officers have been recruited in the last year."

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