Staff shortages at overcrowded prison

From BBC News:

Prisoners and employees are being left vulnerable as a result of staff shortages at an overcrowded Kent prison, inspectors have found.

HMP Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey holds 1,252 men – compared with the 985 it was designed for, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said.

Staff shortages meant many exercise and education sessions were cancelled.

The unannounced inspection in June also found half the posts in the offender management unit remained vacant.

Staff in the unit, which monitors offenders through their sentences, received no training or “meaningful supervision”, the report said.

Inspectors also found one supervisor had 47 high-risk cases, which she had not seen for between six and eight months.

Inspectors said the prison operated on a “very restricted and unpredictable regime”.

Almost 200 prisoners were held three to a cell, in spaces designed for two prisoners.

A further 416 prisoners were paired up in single cells.

The report said those prisoners with disabilities were well cared for and most aspects of healthcare were good.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “These are very concerning findings and the first priority should be to stabilise the prison.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “When the inspectorate visited Elmley in June the prison was operating with a high level of staff vacancies.

“Permanent recruitment is under way.”

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