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Darren tours HMP Bristol and shares funding concerns

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones met the Governor of HMP Bristol, Steve Cross and toured the prison formerly known as HMP Horfield. HMP Bristol is in the constituency of Bristol West but prisoners from across the area are sent here to serve their sentences and many staff live in Bristol North West.

Darren said:

“ I found the visit extremely useful and would like to thank Steve, his team and some of the prisoners for meeting me. Prison services are under an incredible amount of pressure and HMP Bristol have faced, and continues to face, many high profile challenges. The facility itself is ageing and suffering from a lack of investment. Staffing numbers have been low whilst remaining staff have faced record levels of violence and the rising use of former legal highs such as Spice as well as more traditional drugs. I was therefore really pleased to hear that staff numbers have risen, investment is being made to the oldest parts of the prison, there’s a focus on education and skills training and use of drugs is declining. Given my role on the Science and Tech Committee, I was particularly keen to hear about the use of experimental technology to block the use of drones (which drop drugs) over the prison.

Whilst there has been improvements in other areas,  I was concerned to hear about the lack of support available to prisoners with acute mental health needs.  As beds in secure mental health units are in such demand prisoners often find it very difficult to access the right level of care and therefore remain in prison for lengthy periods. This is especially worrying given the 5 self-inflicted deaths at HMP Bristol during 2016 – the highest number on records since 1978.

The situation in this, and other, prisons  needs more focus from government. HMP Bristol staff are doing what they can within the resources they have –  government funding is sorely needed to improve the whole facility, provide swift access to adequate mental health support and ensure those employed as Prison Officers are paid fairly for the increasingly challenging job that they do. The government must listen to HMP staff and governors as well, as the prisoners and their families, and act on their concerns”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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