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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

January 17, 2006: Culture Deteriorates in HMP Leeds

Relationships between staff and prisoners at HMP Leeds, an extremely overcrowded local prison, had deteriorated since the last inspection, said Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers, publishing the report of an unannounced full follow-up inspection of the prison. The inspection took place between 22 and 26 August 2005.

HMP Leeds is a category B local prison holding adult male remand prisoners and convicted prisoners for short periods following sentencing. It is nearly 50% overcrowded and received 77 new prisoners on one day during the inspection.

It was to the prison's credit that it had sustained the good first night procedures, commended at the last inspection, and most prisoners felt safe at this time. Resettlement, particularly of short-term prisoners, was well-managed. However, inspectors detected a deterioration in relationships between staff and prisoners. In particular, they were concerned that:

  • Over a third of prisoners had felt unsafe at some time, and this rose to 43% for black and minority ethnic prisoners. Prisoners reported high levels of bullying, from staff as well as other prisoners.
  • There was a high and mechanistic use of force, which was not sufficiently monitored by managers.
  • Aspects of the segregation unit caused concern: it was run in a militaristic way, with an over-use of the special cell; there was insufficient support for prisoners at risk; and an incident where a prisoner alleged assault had not been immediately followed up.
  • Inspectors heard staff referring to prisoners as 'bodies' or 'cons'.
  • Black and minority ethnic prisoners continued to report 'under-cover' racism, and had no confidence in the race complaints system. Fewer than half of those surveyed believed staff treated them with respect.
  • Despite an increase in activities, there were still only spaces for 60% of prisoners, and prisoners without work could spend 23 hours in their cells. Recorded time out of cell was inaccurate and masked the real position.

Anne Owers commented:

'This inspection shows how difficult it is to sustain progress in a crowded, inner-city local prison, where cultures are hard to change and which is operating under considerable daily pressure. Under such pressure, officers tend to revert to their comfort zone, and governors are preoccupied with crisis management. Managers were aware of the task they faced, and conscious that some fundamental issues remained to be tackled. However, achieving and sustaining lasting change will be difficult, with current levels of overcrowding.'

Prison Service Director General Phil Wheatley said:

'The Chief Inspector makes it very clear that the main problems faced by Leeds are exacerbated by the serious difficulties which overcrowding presents to busy local prisons. We have looked very closely at the population level at Leeds and have reduced the operational capacity by 100. This will enable Leeds to focus on the many challenges facing local prisons.'

'Leeds prison is working hard to address the feelings of insecurity experienced by prisoners, and there is a very active safer prisons agenda currently in operation. The Governor is taking this agenda forward through projects such as the West Yorkshire Community Chaplains, which is working to deliver an inclusive approach to support prisoners and create a positive environment for black and minority ethnic prisoners.'

'I accept that the segregation unit does need to do more to support prisoners. Changes have been made including the introduction of a dedicated principal officer whose job it is to develop a more positive culture, and a Listener Scheme has been implemented.'