'Turbulent Tide' at Jail Revealed

Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), June 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

'Turbulent Tide' at Jail Revealed


Byline: Naomi Paylor

The report covers a period nine months ago and the prison is a markedly different place now. It was admittedly a bad year for suicides but we have now got a mental health in-reach strategy in place.

- A spokesman for Holme House prison

Suicides, overcrowding and violent protests plagued Stockton's Holme House prison last year, a shocking new report reveals today.

The review by the Stockton jail's Board of Visitors (BoV) also raises concerns about security breaches and drug smuggling by prison visitors.

Holme House has admitted it suffered a difficult year but has since made a major turnaround, with significant improvements in many aspects of its management.

But Muriel Blythman, chairwoman of the Independent Monitoring Board at the prison, said staff endured a "turbulent tide of problems".

She reported that one prison officer who failed to turn up for duty is believed to be missing or dead, while another attempted suicide.

"The overall assessment for the year under review has not been good," said Mrs Blythman.

"It has been a very difficult year, with the sad deaths of four prisoners who committed suicide, overcrowding and the low morale of prison staff." Issues of concern noted between October 2001 and September 2002 include:

* An absence of rehabilitation treatment for some sex offenders.

* Violent attacks on staff members by inmates.

* Inmates in the prison's segregation block on dirty protests.

On August 25, 2002, staff witnessed a riot when inmates flooded the prison and damaged their cells.

Three days later, an emergency meeting was called and a lack of confidence was declared in the Governor and Deputy Governor.

"A new Governor and some management change in September has addressed many of the outstanding problems," said Mrs Blythman. …

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