Doncaster prison boss issues statement after report raises concerns over drugs, violence and deaths

The boss of HMP Doncaster has responded to concerns about violence, drugs, deaths and overcrowding.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:42 am
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 11:34 am

Concerns were raised in a report published yesterday, Thursday, January 30, following an inspection of the Category B jail and young offender institution last September.

The report about the jail, which houses 1,100 criminals, including a quarter who are convicted sex offenders, raises concerns about the number of deaths behind bars, violence and the availability of drugs.

Five deaths were recorded in the year before the inspection and one shortly afterwards.

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HMP Doncaster.

Inspectors found overcrowding in cells, with 700 inmates doubling up in cells intended for one.

Over 60 per cent of prisoners said it was easy to get hold of drugs when they were interviewed as part of the inspection.

The chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said: “This dangerous combination of ready availability of drugs, lack of any meaningful way to pass the time, and overcrowding will obviously give rise to tensions and frustration, particularly with such a young population.

“As such, it was hardly surprising that at times staff struggled to maintain control.

“Doncaster is a busy and complex prison with a transient population, many of whom pose significant risks to the public, to each other and, all too often, to themselves.”

Commenting on the report, Jerry Spencer, Serco’s contract director at HMP Doncaster, said: “Doncaster prison holds one of the most complex and challenging groups of prisoners in the country.

“During the inspection, the chief inspector saw how determined everyone here is to improve on the challenges we face and clearly there is much to do, but we share his optimism for the future.

“I am pleased that recently we have seen a downward trend in assaults and acts of self-harm and a fall in the positive mandatory drug testing rate.

“The chief inspector has highlighted some of the innovative cultural and technological practices we have put in place, including the Vulnerability Prediction Tool, and I am confident that these will all help bring the necessary improvements to Doncaster.”

HMP Doncaster is a resettlement prison with the aim of preparing inmates for life on the outside.