Security stepped up at Doncaster prison and locks to be changed after theft of keys

Security has been stepped up at a Doncaster prison and locks are to be changed following the theft of a set of keys.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 7:13 am

The keys are understood to have been snatched from a prison officer by an inmate at HMP Doncaster last Wednesday.

Despite a huge search of the prison, which included bringing specialists in to check the drains, the keys have not been found.

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HMP Doncaster.
HMP Doncaster.

Both the Ministry of Justice and South Yorkshire Police have been informed of the incident.

Jerry Spencer, Prison Director at HMP Doncaster, said: “HMP Doncaster has additional measures in place until the security issue from last week is resolved.

“The incident has been referred to the police so it would be inappropriate to comment further at the moment.”

A number of locks at the prison are to be replaced as a precaution to maintain security.

Last week, an inspection report was published, which raised concerns about overcrowding, violence, deaths and drugs at the prison.

HMP Doncaster, a category B jail and young offender institution, which holds around 1,100 criminals, was inspected last September.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, praised the ‘consistent leadership’ and some improved facilities at the prison but said he was ‘very concerned by the increased levels of self-harm’ at the prison and referred to five self-inflicted deaths in the year leading up to the inspection and another shortly afterwards.

He said levels of violence were higher than were noted at the previous inspection and he revealed that 61 per cent of prisoners said it was easy to get hold of drugs.

The inspection found that around 700 inmates were doubled up in cells designed for one.

Mr Clarke added: “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.”