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Fears cuts at Full Sutton prison could lead to ‘unrest’
FURTHER budget cuts at a top security prison near York could lead to a loss of control, an independent watchdog has warned.
The annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board for Full Sutton Jail said the governor had often noted that it remained calm and well ordered, and assaults were down by 57 per cent since 2008, thanks to a good staff-prisoner relationship and a tight hold on security.
But while costs had reduced by 5.1 per cent, the governor now had to find a further four per cent (£1.1million) in savings during 2013/14, and the board was pessimistic these could be found without significantly eroding prisoners’ welfare.
And the report warned: “The board asks the Minister to note its view that there may well come a time when the implementation of cuts in services and facilities will lead to a potential loss of control, making the prison unsafe for both staff and prisoners.”
The board also revealed that two prisoners had “exercised their legal right of choice and requested the right to start on the path of changing gender”.
It said: “Staff have received training and necessary arrangements have been put in place to support the prisoners.” The report also said there were tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim inmates at the 600-prisoner jail, saying that both groups believed the others were getting preferential treatment.
For part of the year, a group of Muslim prisoners also boycotted Muslim prayers as a protest against one of the imams, in an attempt to undermine and put pressure on him, said the report. “During this period, the imam was fully supported by the governor, his managers and the chaplaincy team,” said the report.
It also revealed that inmates were either indifferent or opposed to an emphasis on officers calling them “Mr” to show them greater respect.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Prisons take the responsibility of keeping prisoners, staff and visitors safe extremely seriously.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence in all our prisons and have systems in place to deal with incidents quickly and robustly, with serious incidents referred to the police immediately.
“We aim to meet the religious needs of prisoners of all faiths; every prison has a multi-faith chaplaincy team to meet the religious and pastoral needs of prisoners and staff.
“The report by the Independent Monitoring Board into HMP Full Sutton will be considered by Ministers, who will respond in due course.”