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Report critical of 'jail neglect'
22 May 2007 17:42 BST

An independent report has criticised the neglect of foreign nationals and the treatment of mentally ill offenders at a prison in Suffolk.

The Independent Monitoring Board report on HMP Edmunds Hill, near Newmarket, Suffolk, is concerned the prison has lacked a Muslim chaplain for two years.

But the report praised improvements in the prison's education programme.

The Ministry of Justice said a Muslim chaplain has now been recruited and is set to start work at the prison soon.

The spokeswoman said in the meantime, interim Muslim chaplains from other establishments will visit the prison on a monthly basis.

The detailed report is critical that the prison has been without a Muslim chaplain for two years.

"Muslim prisoners are dependent on a fellow prisoner to take prayers. The current situation is unacceptable," the report said.

It also said: "Foreign nationals are neglected in the prison population."

The report added that the Immigration and Nationality Directorate leave decisions on deportation to the end of the prison sentence leaving "the Prison Service to bear the brunt of the stress and psychological damage done to such people".

It said the prison has "struggled" to provide adequate mental health services.

The report raises concerns about whether the "average prison is properly equipped to deal with people who need treatment rather than punishment".

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "The mental health processes in all prisons in Suffolk are currently under review."