Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 12:50 UK

Jail gets more space in new block

Lewes Prison
The new block at Lewes will provide modern facilities for 174 inmates

A new accommodation block is being opened at a prison in East Sussex where cells were criticised earlier this year as "barely fit for habitation".

The modern block at Lewes Prison adds 174 places to the prison's capacity and will enable prisoners from Sussex to remain in the county.

"There has been a problem with the number of prisoners," said governor Ian McLennan-Murray.

"The South East is particularly hard hit, with more prisoners than places."

'Quite far away'

The only other jail in Sussex is Ford Open Prison, at Arundel.

"Unless they could go to an open prison, we had to send prisoners to other counties, sometimes quite far away, which is difficult," said Mr McLennan-Murray.

One wing of Lewes Prison was criticised in February in a report by Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers.

She said the accommodation, which is due for refurbishment in the next 12 months, was so bad prisoners had to sit on the toilet to eat their meals.

But the report also said relationships between staff and prisoners was the jail's greatest strength.

The new block is being opened by Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Phyllida Stewart-Roberts.

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