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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 22:10 GMT
'Worst' prison's troubled history
Ashfield Young Offenders Institution
Young offenders are to be removed from Ashfield
Ashfield Young Offenders Institution, at Pucklechurch, near Bristol, was opened in November 1999 - the first privately-run unit of its kind.

It is managed by Premier Prison Services under a 25-year contact with the Prison Service.

Last May, prisons chief Martin Narey took the unprecedented step of removing Premier's governor at the prison amid fears the company would "lose effective control" of the situation.

Mr Narey installed his own manager - former Portland Prison governor Kevin Lockyer - at the prison.

Ashfield Young Offenders Institution
Some youngsters were afraid to leave their rooms
Speaking at the time, Mr Narey said: "I made three unannounced visits to Ashfield after repeated concerns were raised to me by the Prison Service monitors.

"What I found concerned me greatly and I decided to act swiftly to bring in a new governor - standards of care and control of prisoners were not as high as I would expect.

"I considered that the prison was unsafe for both staff and the young people detained there and that urgent action was required."

Premier had 280,000 deducted from its fees between May and November last year because of the installation of the new manager.

Safety concerns The jail was tailor-built by Premier to hold up to 400 boys aged 14 to 18, but in August last year the Youth Justice Board stepped in to cut the number of inmates.

Ashfield was barred from having more than around 200 young prisoners at any one time because of long-standing concerns over safety.

In the same month, one prison officer was injured in a disturbance when 22 inmates refused to return to their cells.

They caused superficial damage before staff intervened five hours later to bring the situation under control.


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23 May 02 | England
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