Rise in assaults at Staffordshire women's prison
Bullying and assaults have increased at a Staffordshire prison, according to its latest monitoring report.
Only 37 per cent of women at HMP and YOI Drake Hall in Eccleshall said they felt safe in a survey.
The figure was revealed in the Independent Monitoring Board’s 2017/18 annual report for Her Majesty’s Prison and Young Offender Institution Drake Hall which has been published this week.
The board – made up of people from the community, appointed by ministers to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and humanely - reports that more prisoners with complex needs are now accommodated at Drake Hall and this can pose challenges for the prison.
In the report it says two accommodation units - Plymouth and Richmond - date back to the Second World War and the board is "concerned" that the units are "damp, mouldy and unfit for habitation".
The report also says plans to replace the units in 2019 have been scrapped and asked the Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke to review the decision.
It also says there has been a rise in bullying and assaults in the prison.
It says: "The allocation of women unsuited to the open physical layout and free flow regime of the prison has continued to contribute to an increase in bullying and assaults.
"There is an increase in prisoner assaults in the current year, with a small number of prisoners disproportionally accounting for many of them. There was a slight increase in use of force, again caused by one particular prisoner."
The number of adjudications, or hearings, held have risen from 1,812 in 2016/17 to 2,194 in 2017/18.
Drugs entering the prison continues to be "problematic", according to the board, but the situation recently improved with a few prisoners moving and increased screening of mail.
Despite these issues, the overall view of the board is that Drake Hall provides an environment for prisoners where they are treated with humanity and decency and staff work hard to ensure that the environment is as safe as possible.
The board also concluded that the prison is effective in supporting women to put in place the foundations they need (including employment skills and family contact) to lead a productive life on release.
HMP and YOI Drake Hall is a closed prison for women and is situated in rural Staffordshire, about a mile from Eccleshall and 10 miles from Stafford.
The prison has a capacity of 340 and the women are accommodated in 15 houses, each with around 20 rooms. In addition an open unit located outside the main prison provides an additional 25 places.
The Ministry of Justice has been approached to comment.