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Staff sickness rates at Wymott prison in Lancashire harming prisoners

STAFF sickness levels at a Lancashire prison are so high that drugs have became rife and inmates are locked in their cells for 21 hours a day, the official watchdog has found.

On a visit to HMP Wymott, near Leyland, HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that staff sickness was leaving too few officers available for operational duties, including searches for illicit drugs.

Inspectors said there had been more than 10,000 intelligence reports submitted relating to drugs at the prison, but a lack of operational officers meant staff completed less than a third of searches.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said: “The influx of drugs at Wymott remained a serious problem. 

“It was a cause of debt that resulted in prisoners self-isolating and self-harming because of their fears of violence.

“There were limited resources available to keep drugs out of the prison, with no scanners, systematic checks on staff or adequate technology to reduce the frequent arrival of contraband-laden drones over the large perimeter fence.”

Andrew Neilson of the Howard League for Penal Reform said: “The best way to stop drugs getting into a prison is to reduce the demand for them, but that involves keeping men occupied in activities that Wymott seems unable to provide. 

“This failure makes the prison less safe for everyone living and working there.

“These are serious problems that require serious solutions. 

“As we approach a general election, it is ludicrous for politicians to be promising more prisons when there are insufficient staff to run the jails we already have.” 

The Ministry of Justice was approached for comment.

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