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HMP High Down prisoners able to contact victims ‘without fear of detection’

PRISONERS at HMP High Down in Surrey were able to contact victims or potential victims without the fear of being detected, the prisons watchdog warned today.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons said public protection risk assessments to determine whether inmates’ mail and phone calls should be monitored were “not routinely completed for new arrivals” at the Surrey jail.

Inspectors found that “one high-risk prisoner who should have had his letters monitored had been missed over recent weeks and there was evidence of him regularly contacting a vulnerable person in the community.”

Levels of violence had increased at the jail since the last inspection in 2015, which chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said was largely due to “the ready availability of illicit drugs.”

But he said his greatest concern was about the lack of purposeful activity for prisoners, which was directly related to the uncertainty over the prison’s future.

The report said that there had been plans to make High Down, currently a category-B prison, a category-C training prison this year.

But Mr Clarke said that when he asked “if this was definitely going to happen and what the plans were to enable it to do so, no-one could give me a clear answer. They simply did not know.

“This, I was told, was because they had not been given any more detail by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. This was extraordinary.”

Mr Clarke said the prison’s senior leadership needed to be given clarity over the future of the jail so that they could focus on introducing “a better regime that allows more prisoners out of their cells to gain access to education and work.”

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