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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 00:40 GMT
Gang culture 'infiltrated' prison
HMP Liverpool
HMP Liverpool has been criticised for its "gang culture"
The drugs and violence of Liverpool's criminal gang culture "infiltrated" a city prison, an official report says.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers warned that prison staff had been "overwhelmed by the imported drug and gang culture" at HMP Liverpool.

Inspectors found more than half the inmates said access to drugs in the prison was "easy" or "very easy".

Ms Owers made 136 recommendations for change. The prison said improvements had been made since inspectors visited.

Ms Owers said: "It was clear that the gang culture of the streets outside had infiltrated the prison, resulting in both easy access to drugs and in bullying and intimidation within the prison."

Bullying was rife and incident reports described much of it as violent
HM Prison Inspectors

The report added that prison officers' relationships with inmates "had become too close and collusive" and were based on "favouritism and low expectations."

"We did not see staff setting clear standards or challenging prisoners for inappropriate behaviour," the report said.

"Bullying was rife and incident reports described much of it as violent. Most bullying was drug-related and prisoners on some wings felt too frightened to come out during association."

Inmates who worked in the prison grounds were under pressure to collect items thrown over the wall by friends and family of bullying inmates, according to prison inspectors.

"Anyone failing to do so could be assaulted or threatened or made to pay back the market value of the item," said the report.

'Continuing enmities'

Cathy James, governor of HMP Liverpool, said: "Liverpool has gangs. The city has a very functional gang network.

"When they come into prison, these allegiances and enmities continue."

She explained criticisms in the report were a fair reflection of the prison at the time inspectors carried out the work, but stressed improvements had since been made.

Ms James said new stricter systems to combat the influx of illegal drugs had "slashed " the quantity getting through.

HM Prison Inspectors did comment on some "noticeable improvements" since their last inspection. In particular they praised basic hygiene requirements and healthcare.

Edinburgh Evening News Gangs 'overwhelm' UK's biggest jail - 37 hrs ago
Liverpool Echo We'll beat the gangs, vows jail chief - 44 hrs ago
Mirror Gangs In Jail Reign Of Terror - 45 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Prison overwhelmed by gang culture - 52 hrs ago
Telegraph Jail 'overwhelmed' by drugs and gangs - 52 hrs ago
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