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The BBC's Tom Sealey
"Officers were told to improve night patrols"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
'Militant' warders put inmates at risk
Warder at a prison
Warders have failed to step up night patrols
Inmates at a south Yorkshire prison are at risk of bullying and abuse because "militant" jail staff refuse to step up night patrols, according to a new report.

Warders at Lindholme Prison, near Doncaster, were warned to increase supervision by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Sir David Ramsbotham after an inspection four years ago.

The Prison Service cannot be some sort of Jurassic Park

Prisons Minister Paul Boateng

But a follow up inspection in March revealed the standard of supervision still fell short of expectations.

The report said prison officers were more concerned with their own comfort than the safety of those in custody.

Sir David said there had been some improvements but he was "disappointed" to find the officers' union had blocked the proposed changes.

Militancy

Staff at Lindholme were still only visiting the various "spurs" of the jail twice a night, rather than the three patrols recommended after the 1996 visit.

"Staff are responsible not only for the security of a prison but for the safety of the prisoners in their charge and care," Sir David said.
Sir David Ramsbotham
Sir David Ramsbotham: Disappointed by reluctance to impose changes

"I am well aware that there are two sides to every issue, but the POA at HMP Lindholme has only itself to blame for its attitude being questioned because of its long record of militancy."

The report published on Wednesday follows strained relations between the POA and the Home Office over plans for the possible privatisation of Brixton prison.

An illegal strike called by the union last week affected about 45 prisons across the UK.

Comforts

"The agreement they are fighting for appears to be more concerned with the ease and comfort of its members and not about the safety of prisoners," said Sir David.

"This is not what should be expected of what purports to be a constructive and responsible Staff Association."
Lindholme Prison:
Lindholme Prison: Inspectors will return next year

Sir David said inspectors would return again next year to ensure the points made in his latest report had been acted on.

"There is nothing more disappointing for an inspection team to have to do than to publish a report on a follow-up inspection that shows much still remains to be done," he said.

Prison Service Director General Martin Narey said security for inmates had improved, with 47 of Sir David's 77 original recommendations completed and another eight in progress.

Stubborn

"Progress has been made and I am determined that this will continue," he said.

The criticisms follow a report comparing industrial relations in the Prison Service to those that crippled the car industry in the 1960s.

Mr Narey and Prisons Minister Paul Boateng were furious when industrial action over the privatisation of London's Brixton jail was announced on the day a new wage-bargaining plan was due to be unveiled.

Mr Boateng warned the POA that its intransigence was turning back the clock on industrial relations at jails across England and Wales.

"The Prison Service cannot be some sort of Jurassic Park, some sort of lost world in which dinosaurs roam and the rest of the world moves on and passes by," the minister said.

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