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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Inspectors criticise private jail
Parc prison
Inspectors found failings at Parc prison in their latest report
Parc Prison failed to meet latest inspection tests but is working on its problems, according to a report into the privately-run jail in Bridgend.

In the last four years, there have been three changes in management at Parc - a fact that the Prison Reform Trust blames for Parc's failings.

Despite the findings, prison inspectors said the jail was in recovery.

The prison, run by Securicor, provides over 1,000 places for adults, young offenders and non-convicted juveniles.

It failed to meet tests on a number of issues including safety and prisoner work activity.

'Inadequate training'

Juliet Lyon from Prison Reform Trust said: "Having seen a high number of directors in a comparatively short time will have made it very inconsistent and unstable."

She said a report by the Council for Racial Equality (CRE) in 2003 had identified problems with racism directed at both staff and inmates, and it appeared not much had changed.

"There hasn't been an action plan to respond to the CRE despite the fact that the report was a while ago," she told BBC Wales.

"There was certainly inadequate training for staff on race relations.

"No particular effort to recruit black and ethnic minority staff, and black and ethnic minority prisoners in particular feeling very much more that they were likely to be subjected to abuse and ill-treatment than white prisoners.

"This racism appears to be quite endemic and has to be rooted out."

Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said although there were a number of concerning elements found at Parc, she recognised moves were being made to address the problems.

Among some of the concerns raised were:

  • Lack of engagement between officers and prisoners
  • No action plan to deal with a critical report from a Racial Equality investigation
  • Little work skills training on offer to prisoners despite many being allowed out of their cells for 11 hours a day
  • The lack of a visitors' centre
  • Lack of activities for young adult prisoners (18-21)
  • Management and support gaps for prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide
  • Education provision in the juvenile unit was inadequate
  • However, she said inspectors found Parc staff used relatively low levels of force and segregation.

    Inspectors were pleased to find real progress in resettlement of offenders.

    The report also found the juvenile unit was well run and focused on the needs of young people.

    "Though this was a disappointing inspection, we were clear that the prison was moving forward under a new director," said Ms Owers.

    Parc prison sign
    The prison has had three managers in four years

    "The pockets of good practice show what can be achieved, given motivation, leadership and resources.

    "But it is of some concern that Securicor, who managed the prison, and the Office for Contracted Prisons, had not taken decisive action earlier to halt and reverse the drift downwards.

    "Parc can be a significant resource for Wales, but its role needs to be clarified, and its contract examined to ensure that it provides the right incentives and sufficient resources for that role."

    She urged the new Director of Offender Management for Wales to urgently oversee that task.

    Sian West, acting Director of Offender Management for Wales, responded: "I am satisfied that the report is a fair and accurate reflection of Parc Prison at the time the inspection took place. "

    Jerry Knight, Custody and Rehabilitation Director for Group 4 Securicor Justice Services, said: "We have taken various steps to action the recommendations in the report to ensure that the continued improvement of HMP & YOI Parc is sustained.

    "The report acknowledges that solid foundations are in place at Parc to sustain performance improvements in the future."

    'No spare places' in Welsh jails
    20 Oct 05 |  South West Wales

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