Eastwood Park women's prison 'under strain'

Interior Eastwood Park prison
Image caption Eastwood Park houses about 400 inmates

Violence has increased at an "under strain" women's prison, a report has found.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which visited Eastwood Park in November, also noted there were three self-inflicted deaths in 2016.

Its report raised concerns over inmates being victimised, and a lack of support for women to find secure accommodation on release.

However, it said it still considered the prison to be "generally safe".

The jail, in South Gloucestershire, was last inspected in 2013. Since then its population has increased by 100 to about 400 inmates.

'Urgent action'

Chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said: "We still considered Eastwood Park to be a well-led... and decent prison, but it was showing signs of being under strain.

"Efforts to understand the recent self-inflicted deaths needed to continue, and urgent action should be taken to address any deficiencies.

"The increase in violence needed to be addressed with renewed vigour, and aspects of the prison's activities and resettlement provision required further work."

Mr Clarke added that Eastwood Park, near near Wotton-under-Edge, was among 10 prisons that would be prioritised to receive extra resources and support.

Inspectors noted that the prison remained "reasonably safe" for most inmates, support for vulnerable women was "generally strong" and issues with drugs were "well managed".

In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said: "Eastwood Park is currently recruiting additional staff for around 20 new posts to introduce new 'dedicated officer' arrangements, which will significantly improve the quality of support that can be provided to women in their care."

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