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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 09:27 GMT
Overcrowding concerns at youth prison
Overcrowding is a serious problem at Deerbolt
A young offenders' prison is facing major problems with overcrowding, according to a new report.

Prison inspectors said Deerbolt Young Offenders Institution, near Barnard Castle in County Durham, has too many inmates and too few resources.

The unit, which houses about 500 youths between 18 and 20, was criticised following a formal inspection in 2001, for not giving inmates enough time out of their cells, a lack of education and employment opportunities and poor prisoner relations.

And an unannounced visit by inspectors earlier this year found that while some improvements had been made, some serious problems remained.

Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "The problem Deerbolt has is that there is simply not enough for the inmates to do because there are not enough resources there.

Escort arrangements

"This is the age group that is most likely to re-offend and that need education and training.

"We have also recommended that youngsters should spend more time outside their cells and not locked behind doors all the time.

"We were also worried to see that young people were locked in showers together for long periods of time unsupervised.

"We are also constantly asking for escort arrangements between prisons and outside areas to be improved as they are unsatisfactory at the moment."

The report said overcrowding had to be addressed to provide a "challenging and constructive regime" needed to stop young prisoners re-offending on release.

Inspectors said the unit had improved anti-bullying strategies, which were raised as a concern during their last visit.

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