[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Prison watchdog's open jail fears
HM Prison Leyhill
Leyhill is home to many inmates classed as high risk
The prisons watchdog is questioning the policy of placing high-risk criminals, including sex offenders, in open jails.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, said Leyhill near Bristol, which has no perimeter fence, was housing up to 50 inmates of high or very high risk.

The guidance on whether these offenders should be in open prisons at all was "unclear", she revealed in a report.

Ms Owers is also calling for discussions with the Parole Board about the "appropriateness" of the policy.

Suitable placements

Ms Owers said in her report: "Leyhill received prisoners identified as high or very high risk, but such prisoners would not normally be able to work or visit outside prison - which called into question the point of them being in open conditions.

"It was increasingly difficult to find suitable placements for the relatively large group of men at Leyhill convicted of sex offences."

She continued: "Managers were rightly concerned that Leyhill was required to take increasing numbers of such prisoners whom they were not able to progress."

The report, which is published on Wednesday, made 127 recommendations for improvement.

Ms Owers also raised concerns about poor relationships between staff and prisoners, which was marked by "considerable distance" and "an atmosphere of mutual distrust".

The jail, near Bristol, was commended for being reasonably safe with little evidence of bullying or self-harm, "sound" public protection and a good range of activities and workshops.

Ms Owers said: "Like all open prisons, Leyhill is receiving a wider range of prisoners.

"However, it needs to strengthen its resettlement work by providing and supporting more outside work for those prisoners who are eligible for it."


SEE ALSO
Blair in clash over prison terms
14 Jun 06 |  UK Politics
700 escaped open jails last year
22 May 06 |  UK Politics
Inmates walk out weekly from jail
19 May 06 |  Bristol/Somerset
MP urges review of open prisons
12 Feb 06 |  Bristol/Somerset

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific