Bullying and victimisation is still an issue at a Doncaster prison due to be privatised this year, according to inspectors after an unannounced visit.
Moorland Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution has made some improvements but its learning and skill provision had slipped backwards, said Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector.
Since the last inspection, Moorland has had to cope with considerable change and uncertainty, including recovering from the 2010 riots, the arrival of over 300 sex offenders and 250 foreign prisoners, and the likely transfer to management by Serco during 2013.
Inspectors found that safety outcomes were reasonably good, a significant vulnerable population was well managed, young adults were properly integrated, recorded levels of violence were not high, and staff and prisoner relationships were better than they had been.
But they raised concerns about evidence of bullying; prisoners reported more victimisation than at other similar prisons and over a third of prisoners were locked up during the day doing nothing, a particular concern in a training prison.
Mr Hardwick said: “We found that Moorland had made some progress and was dealing with considerable uncertainties. The need to deal with these problems and improve outcomes for prisoners should not be lost in the transit to the private sector.”
Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “As the chief inspector points out, Moorland has gone through a substantial period of change. He acknowledges that progress has been made but I accept that there remains more to do.
“The governor and her staff are driving forward further improvements.”