Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Prison control in 'parlous state'

Altcourse Prison
The prison was opened in 1997 and has 1,324 inmates

A privately-run prison on Merseyside has been criticised for the amount of drugs and mobile phones finding their way in.

Attempts of controlling the influx at Altcourse Prison in Fazakerley, Liverpool, is in a "parlous state" according to a report.

The findings, drawn up by the Independent Monitoring Board, have been sent to the government.

The prison said "all possible prevention measures" were being used.

The board suggested the number of mobile phones being illegally delivered to prisoners was partly responsible for the amount of drugs being found within the jail.

'Quality of care'

It stated: "Figures are indicative of the continued access of drugs into the prison despite the earnest and costly endeavours of prison staff."

The watchdog recommended that the prison installed mobile phone deviators.

This technology would disarm all mobile phones in the prison centrally, and reduce the amount of manpower needed in daily yard searches.

Altcourse Prison is a Category B local prison operated by G4S an international security firm.

It was opened in 1997 to serve the court areas of Merseyside, Cheshire and north Wales.

The capacity is 1,324, accommodated in seven house blocks.

The prison staff were praised for "the quality of care and professionalism" that was administered to each prisoner on arrival.

It was also commended for its drug strategy plans, educational services and a "flourishing" drama and radio group.

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