Self-harm rockets at Winchester jail as report reveals increase in violence

VIOLENCE has increased in a jail with the worst levels of self-harm in Britain, a watchdog's latest damning report has found.

By Ben Fishwick
Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 6:00 am
File photo of Winchester prison from above
File photo of Winchester prison from above

Inmates at Winchester's category B prison were responsible for 185 violent incidents in just six months.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons's report said there had been seven suicides between its last inspection in July 2016 and its latest in June and July last year.

Actions on recommendations following report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman after deaths were 'not robust' enough.

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Self-harm has doubled since 2016, with the category B jail now having the highest level of any other prison.

The inspection comes four years after the death of 22-year-old Daryl Hargrave who was on remand accused of a stabbing in Gosport.

A coroner at his inquest in 2017, where a jury found neglected healthcare contributed to his death, said she was 'gravely concerned' about the risk of deaths in the prison.

Today chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke stopped short of triggering an urgent notification process - which would have forced justice secretary Robert Buckland QC to come up with an action plan in 28 days.

Mr Clarke said: ‘It would have been very easy to justify doing so. However (…) I believe the urgent notification process is best reserved for when there is no other obvious or feasible solution, when the intervention of the secretary of state is needed to bring about some strategic or significant organisational change.

‘In the case of Winchester, we did not consider that this was the case and believed the changes needed to bring about improvement were all within the gift of the prison itself.’

During the inspection the prison was at full staffing levels but 70 per cent of staff had less than two years of experience.

Violence at the category C section of the jail was not a problem.

But regarding the larger section the report warned: ‘Assaults on staff at the local site were a concern as there had been an increase from 50 at the last inspection to 86. This figure was high in comparison to other similar prisons.’

Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service director general for prisons, said: ‘There is still much to do at HMP Winchester, but I know the governor and his staff have been working hard to improve safety and I am pleased inspectors have recognised their dedication to achieving that.’