Concerns of ‘chronic’ shortages at Leyland prison

Garth Prison, Ulnes Walton
Garth Prison, Ulnes Walton

‘Chronic’ staff shortages are causing ‘significant challenges’ at a Leyland prison, a report has found.

An unannounced inspection at Garth prison in Ulnes Walton showed that its main function as a training prison was being undermined as a result of staffing issues.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “HMP Garth has an important and difficult role and some of the significant challenges it faced at this inspection were caused by staff shortages outside its direct control.

“For the most part these pressures were well managed: priorities were managed pro-actively and the successful introduction of the new sex offender population was a real achievement in these circumstances.

“Nevertheless, the weaknesses in some critical areas – safety, equalities, activities and offender management – undermined its core function as a training prison for serious offenders.”

The report, published last week, added: “Relationships between staff and prisoners were undermined by a lack of continuity of staff on the wings. Staff shortages impacted on the delivery of some basic processes such as applications, complaints and mail.

“Contact between prisoners and their offender supervisors, including some high risk prisoners, was too infrequent, of insufficient quality and did not adequately drive the prisoner’s sentence.”

Inspectors were also concerned to find that:

- Cells on the first night wing were dirty and badly prepared and reception and induction processes were haphazard;

- The number of violent incidents had been rising steadily and there was a sharp increase in the two months before the inspection; and

- Drug treatment services were good, but they were undermined by too readily available drugs and alcohol.

Mr Hardwick added that staff shortages, as a result of unfilled vacancies, was resulting in a ‘restricted regime’ at the prison.

- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.