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Sir David Ramsbotham, chief inspector of prisons
"There are simply too many asylum seekers being detained in jails"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's chief reporter Penny Roberts
"The detention of asylum seekers in prison has been controverial"
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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Prison told to review cell-share policy
Cardiff Prison
An unannounced inspection took place at Cardiff Prison
Cardiff Prison has been urged to review its cell-sharing policy in the wake of an inmate's death.

The HMIP inspector's report raised concerns over cell-sharing between prisoners who had not been fully assessed and did not know each other.

Sir David Ramsbotham
Sir David Ramsbotham: 'Work to be done'
Prison chiefs have been advised to carry out a full check on prisoners on their arrival to prevent violent or even fatal incidents from occurring.

The report by the chief inspector of prisons found staff and inmates were "understandably sensitive" to the impact of the death of 35-year-old Colin Bloomfield, 35, who died in the prison's vulnerable person unit in April last year.

Cellmate Jason Ricketts had gouged out Mr Bloomfield's eyeball and liver and was sentenced to an indefinite period in a secure hospital after admitting manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

Prisoners told us that staff were vigilant in checking on the welfare of individuals

HMIP inspector's report
The HMIP report concluded: "There was no preliminary assessment of individuals that identified potential difficulties of inappropriate cell sharing. There should be."

There was praise for prison conditions in general in the report, which followed an unannounced inspection earlier this year.

The inspector praised Cardiff Prison staff for the way they relate to prisoners and for their awareness to the risk of self-harm and suicide.

'Caring staff'

"Prisoners told us that staff were vigilant in checking on the welfare of individuals.

"Staff did care about prisoners and we fully recognised that many lives had been saved through staff vigilance," it said.

It was a horrible experience for prisoners and staff and most importantly for the family of the man killed

John May, operational manager, prisons in Wales

Two deaths in custody occurred in December 2000 and in January 2001.

The report was largely satisfied with the controversial detention of up to 40 asylum seekers in Cardiff Prison.

The detainees are being housed at the prison as part of a much criticised Home Office programme, prior to the opening of dedicated reception centres.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Sir David Ramsbotham said the Prison Service as a whole still had work to do to deal adequately with asylum seekers.

"What is needed is common policy and common practice, laid down throughout the system, including the availability of translations of those documents that apply to every detainee, of whatever nationality," he said.

Operational manager for prisons in Wales John May welcomed the report.

He said the Ricketts incident had taught lessons to everyone in the prison system.

"It was a horrible experience for prisoners and staff and most importantly for the family of the man killed."

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