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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 01:37 GMT 02:37 UK
Jail rapped over sex offenders
A jail inmate
Sex offenders were verbally and physically abused, the report said
A jail that tried to mix sex offenders with other inmates has been criticised by the UK prisons chief for failing to protect them.

Inmates at HMP Risley, in Cheshire told prisons inspectors physical and verbal abuse was directed at sex offenders after the bid to integrate them, said Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons.

There were "serious concerns for their safety" she said in her report on inspection of the all-male prison, near Warrington, which was released on Friday.

It found sex offenders had "self-segregated" themselves from other prisoners because they did not trust the regime at the Category C prison to protect them.

The report also details how the inmates avoided education classes because of their safety fears.

Anti-bullying processes were underdeveloped and there was no investigation of the cause or nature of injuries
Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons
Ms Owers said she supported the principle of integrating sex offenders, known within the Prison Service as "vulnerable prisoners", but that they must be made to feel safe.

She said: "This was not the case at Risley.

"There was considerable anecdotal evidence, from both staff and prisoners, of verbal and physical abuse, yet the establishment was not monitoring or analysing to what extent, where and why this took place."

Risley holds 1,083 inmates and around 20% of them - about 200 - are sex offenders.

Many prisons keep sex offenders in separate wings but Risley, which is Britain's largest Category C prison, aimed to integrate them.

'Notable achievements'

Ms Owers said it was "regrettable" Risley failed to provide an integrated regime sex offenders could have confidence in.

"Anti-bullying processes were underdeveloped and there was no investigation of the cause or nature of injuries, assaults and self-harm," she said.

However, the prison was praised for "notable achievements" in employment and education, by the Prison Service

Phil Wheatley, director general, said: "These two areas are vital if we are to achieve our aims of effective resettlement and reducing re-offending."

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