Concerns Raised About HMP Dartmoor

Inspectors have raised big concerns about conditions in Dartmoor Prison.

HMP Dartmoor had already been the subject of a negative inspection back in 2002 and a 2008 inspection brought up worries that earlier warnings had not been taken in.

In a recent report inspectors said they are particularly worried a third of inmates do not feel safe, and some staff have bad attitudes towards minority groups.

Anne Owers is the Chief Inspector of Prisons: "This is a poor inspection report, raising some issues of serious concern. Dartmoor shows the necessity of continued and robust management in prisons with historically poor cultures. That was a clear warning at the time of the last inspection. It was not heeded: inappropriate language and behaviour had not been effectively challenged, especially in the area of diversity, and the weaknesses identified had not been tackled.

"A new management team had begun to make progress, but from an even lower base than that recorded at the last inspection. They will need greater and continuing support at area and national level if Dartmoor is to become, and stay, an effective and decent training prison."

Heart spoke to the new Governor of Dartmoor Tony Corcoran, who says they are making changes: "we've introduced many things in the last year or so: prisoner forums, older prisoner groups. All the figures would indicate that this is a safer place than 2008"

He continued: "use of force has been reduced in the last 24 months, our mandatory drugs testing rate is very very low and the number of acts of self harm by prisoners here is again very low"

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, hopes this will lead to more progress at the facility: “While I recognise the concerns raised by the Chief Inspector, I am confident that, since the inspection, improvements have been seen in many areas of the establishment. Training provision for staff on diversity and Foreign National Prisoner awareness has increased and more managers have been recruited to ensure greater supervision and interaction on the wings.

“I am concerned at the number of prisoners who told the inspectorate they felt unsafe, especially considering self-harm and use of force incidents have decreased over the last two years. 

“The Governor and his team are working hard to address the concerns and I am confident that they will drive the improvements which are necessary.”