Report criticises drugs failure at HMP Chelmsford

24 May 2019, 08:42 | Updated: 24 May 2019, 08:44

HMP Chelmsford

Inspectors have criticised the failure to tackle widespread drug-taking inside Chelmsford Prison.

They have published a report today after last month's 'Independent Review of Progress'.

IRPs are a new type of visit which look at how well prison managers have responded to recommendations made after full inspections.

Last year, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) rated HMP Chelmsford's safety as 'poor'.

They were concerned about the 'very high' level of violence and said the rate of positive drug tests was one of the highest recorded in the country.

10 recommendations were made. Last month's check-up visit followed up on nine of those.

Inspectors concluded good progress has been made in making sure prisoners are held in clean and respectful living conditions.

They also found reasonable progress when it came to work to reduce levels of violence. Reported violence has actually increased since last year, but the number of assaults classified as serious has been reduced by more than 50 per cent.

In two other areas the review concludes the jail has made reasonable progress, but insufficient progress has been against five of the nine recommendations examined.

HMIP's report says "the lack of more sophisticated drug detection equipment was indefensible, and the easy availability of drugs continued to undermine other progress made."