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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 06:06 GMT
Officers slammed for 'cons' jibe
Inside Leeds prison
Leeds is a local jail for category B prisoners
Prison officers at Leeds Jail have been criticised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons for describing inmates as "cons" and "bodies".

Anne Owers said relationships between staff and prisoners had deteriorated since her inspection team's last visit to the jail in 2003.

During the latest visit, the prison was found to be overcrowded by nearly 50% with bullying a problem.

The Prison Service said it had since reduced the jail's capacity by 100.

"We heard too many staff referring to prisoners as 'bodies' or 'cons'," said Ms Owers.

"A recent prison survey measuring the quality of prison life had also pointed to a lack of trust between prisoners and staff."

Serious difficulties

Ms Owers' report on the category B local prison said more than a third of prisoners had felt unsafe at some time, and that rose to 43% for ethnic minorities.

Inmates also reported high levels of bullying, from staff as well as other prisoners.

Prison Service director general Phil Wheatley said Ms Owers made it very clear the main problems faced by Leeds were exacerbated by the serious difficulties overcrowding presented to busy local prisons.

"We have looked very closely at the population level at Leeds and have reduced the operational capacity by 100," he said.

"This will enable Leeds to focus on the many challenges facing local prisons.

"Leeds prison is working hard to address the feelings of insecurity experienced by prisoners, and there is a very active safer prisons agenda currently in operation."

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