Improvements at Exeter Prison not happening fast enough

21 May 2019, 07:15 | Updated: 21 May 2019, 07:16


Last year HMP Exeter became one of the first jails to be flagged up under the "urgent notification" process.

Last month HM Inspectorate of Prisons returned to HMP Exeter to check on progress against key recommendations from last year's full inspection. 

Of 13 recommendations reviewed, the report said there was good progress in three, reasonable progress in three, insufficient progress in four and no meaningful progress in three. 

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: "The purpose of the Urgent Notification Protocol, which is only used where I have serious concerns about the treatment of and conditions for prisoners, is to initiate immediate remedial action. 

"At Exeter, in too many critical areas, this simply had not happened.

"It was not clear whether this was as a result of a conscious decision not to prioritise our recommendations, bureaucratic inertia, or whether managers were simply overwhelmed or uncertain as to how to set about making the much-needed improvements. 

"Whatever the reason, there had not been a sufficient sense of urgency in the prison's response to a number of key recommendations." 

On the most recent visit, overall levels of violence had decreased, though they remained higher than in similar prisons, according to the review report. 

It said there had been an "inexplicable failure" to develop a drug strategy. 

A draft strategy was being put together and it is essential that this is now treated as a priority, the report added. 

A Prison Service spokesman said: "Improving safety and security at HMP Exeter was our top priority following last year's Urgent Notification and we're pleased that inspectors recognise good progress has been made in this area. 

"We accept more needs to be done to tackle drugs and are implementing new national and local drug strategies. 

"We have increased the use of dog teams and perimeter patrols and all incoming mail is currently being photocopied to help stop drugs getting into prison."