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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 10:02 GMT
Mixed report for private prison
Prison door
Staff have "extremely positive" relations with inmates
A privately-run Greater Manchester jail has been given a mixed report after an inspection by a prison watchdog.

Forest Bank, in Salford, does not engage enough prisoners in "purposeful activity", according to Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.

In a report, released on Wednesday, Ms Owers also notes the relative inexperience of prison staff and a lack of respect in the visiting area.

However, the report stresses staff-prisoner relations are "extremely positive", which the Prison Service has welcomed.


The prison should continually review its staffing profiles

Anne Owers
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

In the report, Ms Owers said: "A major weakness was that there was insufficient purposeful activity, with fewer than half the prisoners engaged in meaningful work or education.

"The Inspectorate was also concerned that the general atmosphere of respect did not extend to the visits room."

However, the inspectors commended the prison service director's decision to strengthen the management structure and increase staffing levels on the young prisoners' wing.

The report also stated that association between inmates, and exercise periods, are priorities in the daily regime at the prison.

'Transient population'

"Overall, Forest Bank was a prison that had avoided many of the pitfalls of newly-opened private sector prisons, with inexperienced staff, and was succeeding in spite of the pressures of a significant population increase," said Ms Owers.

Martin Narey, Prison Service director general, said Forest Bank's large and transient population makes work and education provision difficult.

He said: "Purposeful activity in this type of prison is lower than in other prisons as a whole.

"However, Forest Bank provides a comparable level...to other core local prisons."


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See also:

21 Aug 02 | England
01 Oct 02 | England
30 Jul 02 | England
15 Jul 02 | Hardtalk
15 Mar 01 | UK
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