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Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Prison chief slams 'scrooge' officers
The Weare
The Weare is now docked at Portland, Dorset
Prison Service Director General Martin Narey has severely criticised warders who complained about a jail's plan to give Christmas gifts to inmates' children.

The governor of The Weare, the prison ship moored at Portland, Dorset, allocated money from the prison shop to buy presents for children visiting their fathers.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) representative at the jail, Steve Martin, then criticised the scheme, saying it was a chance for inmates to have drugs smuggled to them.

If these individuals believe it is somehow soft to treat prisoners' children decently and with a bit of compassion they are in the wrong job

Martin Narey, Director General of the Prison Service
Mr Narey described Mr Martin's comments as "immature and offensive", and said he did not want people who thought like that in the prison service.

Mr Narey said: "I think my service has made real progress in treating prisoners and their families with humanity while simultaneously improving security and reducing drug abuse.

"This episode reminds me how far we have to go with a small minority of POA members in a small number of prisons.

Not representative

"I find the reaction of the POA secretary and chairman both immature and offensive and am quite certain they do not reflect the views of the majority of prison officers.

"If these individuals believe it is somehow soft to treat prisoners' children decently and with a bit of compassion, they are in the wrong job.

"I do not want people like them in the Prison Service."

The Weare was the first prison ship to operate in the UK for 200 years when it opened in 1997.


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