Women’s prison given pointers for improvement by inspectors

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A WOMEN’S prison is taking steps to help inmates turn their lives around, but still needs to improve, according to inspectors.

The latest appraisal by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons has said HMP Low Newton, in Durham, is continuing to operate effectively.

Positive points made by Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, included the introduction of good services to support those with drink problems, use of illegal drugs was low, incidents of self-harm had fallen and a “promising” new strategy to tackle violence reduction was in place.

It also said the relationships between staff and prisoners was mostly good, with places on activities available for most women and efforts which would help them resettle and reduce their offending, also good.

However, it found improvements could be made in each of the four areas assessed during the inspection.

Recommendations include offering appropriate first-night prescribing arrangements for those in need of opiate substitutes and a high level of alcohol services were needed to meet demand.

But the report has highlighted areas of concern, finding there were times when no women officers were on wings at night, with too many men working at the women’s jail.

It also said, although most women found it a safe environment, some had reported they felt unsafe at times.

Mr Hardwick said: “Low Newton continues to be an effective women’s prison.

“This report outlines a number of areas for improvement, but overall, the prison provides a reasonably-safe and respectful environment in which a purposeful regime is maintained and where individual women are encouraged to progress towards sustainable resettlement.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which includes prisons and the probation service, said: “This is a positive report that recognises the good work that the governor and staff are doing to meet the needs of the women in their care.

“I am pleased the chief inspector found that Low Newton provides a safe and respectful environment.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham