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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Overcrowded jail struggles to improve
Elmley Prison
Elmley Prison is running at its maximum safe capacity
A prison has been praised in a new report for making noticeable improvements, despite being overcrowded.

Elmley Prison, on the Isle of Sheppey, which holds 30% more inmates than it was built for, will struggle to improve further unless overcrowding is tackled, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The jail is at its full capacity of 985 inmates after taking on the role of the sole prison serving local courts earlier this year.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, said: "Our last inspection report described a prison that had lost direction and was stalling.

Problems identified

"This inspection showed senior managers had identified the problems and taken effective action to stop, and reverse, the drift."

She added: "The report lists some impressive achievements.

"Nevertheless, in spite of their best efforts, they will be unable to provide a decent and challenging environment for a significant number of their prisoners, unless numbers decrease."

The report said concerns were raised at the time of the inspection in May about the number of prisoners, who were being held two together in cells designed for one.

Lack of resources

It said a lack of resources had led to problems in dealing with foreign nationals in the prison, who make up about 20% of its inmates.

Inspectors said that many recommendations made in their last report in 2001 had been implemented.

Director General of the Prison Service, Phil Weatley, said: "Elmley has to cope with the numbers of prisoners sent into custody from local courts.

"The prison has routinely been running at its maximum safe capacity. Despite this challenge, great progress has been made."

Jail overcrowding 'ongoing problem'
13 Aug 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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