Page last updated at 01:21 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 02:21 UK

Prison's use of force criticised

HMP Dartmoor cells
Inspectors said many cells were covered in soft pornography

The use of force at Dartmoor Prison has been criticised in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

The report by Ann Owers also highlighted evidence of "institutional disrespect" with poorly furnished cells and too many inmates locked up.

Ms Owers said the prison had "slipped back" noticeably since her last inspection in 2006.

The findings were "disappointing", but Dartmoor was still a much better place than it was in 2001, she added.

Ms Owers said Dartmoor was a training prison and the provision for activities was insufficient - about a third were unemployed and for the rest there was too much mundane and unskilled work.

These are things managers need to get a grip on
Ann Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons

"We were disappointed because the prison had made a lot of progress when we were last there in 2006," she told BBC News.

"The use of force had greatly increased and there was one serious incident that was not investigated at the time as it should have been.

"These are things managers need to get a grip on."

The report said furniture was missing from many cells and the prison was failing to enforce its offensive display policy, with many cells covered in soft pornography.

Inspectors found no evidence of the widely-criticised negative staff culture uncovered in 2001, but they said staff were not actively engaging with prisoners.

The chief inspector said: "It will require renewed and much more robust management to reverse this trend, to support and encourage committed staff, and to ensure that Dartmoor once more fulfils its role as an effective training prison.

"This will be a difficult task for the management team. Dartmoor is not an easy prison and the prison system is under a lot of pressure."

'Strong leadership'

The deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, Geoff Dobson, said there were some disappointing findings in the report.

He said Dartmoor would need "strong leadership" in order to raise its game.

"Urgent attention must be paid to restoring the progress that was being made before," he said.

Phil Wheatley, the director general of the National Offender Management Service, said he was confident the governor and her senior management team would continue their hard work to ensure recently lost ground was regained.

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