Performance at a Doncaster prison has been deemed to be of 'serious concern' by the Ministry of Justice, who gave the jail the worst possible rating in a report published today.
HMP Doncaster was one of only six prisons across the country to be given the rating, in annual report looking at the performance of 121 jails across the country.
This comes after the prison, run by private firm Serco, was branded inadequate by HM Inspectorate of Prison chiefs following their visit in October.
An official inspection report following the visit said levels of violence were higher than at other jails.
It also stated that eleven inmates had died in the 18 months leading up to the inspection, including three who had taken their own lives. Hostage incidents had taken place, drugs were widely available and clean bedding was reportedly hard to find.
Julia Rogers, Serco’s Managing Director for Justice, said: “At HMP Doncaster, with considerable help from our customer we have been working hard over the past year to improve the prison. I am pleased to say that since March, when these ratings were given, the measures we have taken are having a real effect and as a result safety is improving and violence is gradually reducing.
“The measures we have taken include the appointment of a new Director and management team; achieving and maintaining full staffing levels over the last six months and providing improved training and support for our Officers and these have all contributed to reducing the levels of violence.
“We have also introduced a new ‘Social Responsibility Unit’ in June, to work with all offenders who display acts of violence and aggression towards other prisoners and staff. This Unit addresses the root causes of issues causing violence in Doncaster prison and we have seen marked reductions in violence.
“However we know we have much more to do; we will continue to work hard to drive down violence in the prison and to support the victims of violence and support those prisoners in crisis.
“Doncaster has a history of having previously been an excellent prison and we are determined that it will be once more in the very near future.”
The other prisons also awarded the worst possible rating were: Bristol, Hewell, Isis, Liverpool and Wormwood Scrubs.
The number of prisons awarded the rating has doubled since last year.
Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “That more prisons have been awarded the worst-possible performance rating provides further indication of how the system is failing after years of rising numbers, chronic overcrowding and deep staff cuts.
"Once again, official figures spell out the urgent need for prison reform. Prisons are not only becoming more dangerous; they are becoming more dangerous more quickly."
The Ministry of Justice has also been contacted for comment on this story.