Search

Prison warden claims overcrowding

PUBLISHED: 19:17 15 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:33 03 March 2010

A SENIOR prison officer claims dangerous offenders are being transferred to low-security prisons too soon into their sentences in an attempt to ease overcrowding problems.

A SENIOR prison officer claims dangerous offenders are being transferred to low-security prisons too soon into their sentences in an attempt to ease overcrowding problems.

Neil Mason, national executive committee member of the Prison Officers' Association, was speaking four days after murderer Lawrence Hughes absconded from Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge.

Mr Mason said pressure for places in closed establishments could result in offenders being reclassified from Grade C to Grade D - when they are considered suitable for open prison accommodation - too early. He said nationally prisons were being forced to allocate two per cent more prisoners - two new prisons worth of offenders.

He said: "There are now 70,000 prisoners nationwide which is an all time high and they have not got the staff to look after the recent increase in population so they are having to overcrowd all prisons which has a knock-on effect on an open establishment.

"My concern is that because of the pressure of places in closed establishments they are re-categorising prisoners too soon."

Stuart Robinson, prison governor at Hollesley Bay Prison, said there was no evidence to support Mr Robson's claim.

"There has been no change in the risk management and allocation procedures. The allocation process has not been altered and the same risk assessments have been undertaken," he added.

Mr Mason said overcrowding problems were severely affecting prisons throughout the country, including Chelmsford Prison, where the prison's capacity had increased from 501 offenders to 536 with no extra resources or staff.

A Prison Service spokeswomen said: "Obviously we are well aware there are overcrowding problems in the prison service at the moment. We are looking in the short term and long term to try and tackle this problem.

"But the director general Martin Narey has made it clear to everyone in the prison service that at a time like this, we should be extra careful in risk assessing prisoners to ensure they are correctly and properly categorised.

"No prisoner who is unsuitable for a category D prison should be held in such an establishment."

Convicted murderer Hughes has been reported missing from Hollesley Bay's open wing since Saturday evening.

The 28-year-old Irishman was jailed for life in 1995 for killing his girlfriend. He was last seen at 6.50pm and reported missing just over an hour later.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star