More prison cuts on the way following rehabilitation concerns surfacing at High Down

Concerns over staff shortages and rehabilitation have already been raised with regards to High Down prison

Concerns over staff shortages and rehabilitation have already been raised with regards to High Down prison

First published in News
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Asking prison governors to slash the cost of holding inmates by a further £149m in the next year can be achieved without compromising safety or rehabilitation, according to the Government.

Speaking to the Epsom Guardian last month, Ian Bickers, the governor of High Down prison, on the border of Banstead and Sutton, admitted that major cost-cutting measures introduced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last year had caused operational difficulties.

The Epsom Guardian was contacted by a number of relatives of prisoners and ex-prison officers who raised concerns about staff shortages and prisoners being kept locked in their cells for long periods of time - both of which were refuted by the MoJ.

And a report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) on High Down for 2013 - covering the period when cost-cutting measures were introduced - said it had been a "dreadful" year for the prison and asked the Government to consider the effect of its cost-cutting on rehabilitation.

But Michael Spurr, chief executive, of NOMS (National Offender Management Service), has announced more cuts are on the way - something the prison service claims can be achieved without cutting any services.

Savings of £149m have been identified from the cost of running prisons in 2014 to 2015 - approximately £2,200 per prisoner per year.

A prison service spokesman said: "We are making prisons more effective and cheaper to run - not by cutting services or reducing quality but by fundamentally changing the way we operate.

"We have replaced old, inefficient buildings with newer ones that are cheaper to run and ensured prison officers are in frontline roles.

"At the same time we have seen significant improvements in operational performance.

"The cost of running our prisons is too high and has to be reduced.  We can do this by being more innovative and efficient and without compromising public safety."

The spokesman denied national media reports that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is planning to benchmark public sector prisons against the private model used at Oakwood prison to drive down costs.

But he said bench-marking is an important tool in driving efficiency: "Bench-marking is a public sector initiative and is about fundamentally changing the way we operate."

 

Comments (5)

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5:21pm Wed 7 May 14

treblegold says...

High Down prison is not "on the border of Banstead and Sutton": it is in Banstead. The Sutton Guardian's continuing use of this imprecise, inaccurate and misleading formula to describe the prison's location is increasingly tiresome.
High Down prison is not "on the border of Banstead and Sutton": it is in Banstead. The Sutton Guardian's continuing use of this imprecise, inaccurate and misleading formula to describe the prison's location is increasingly tiresome. treblegold
  • Score: -1

1:56pm Thu 8 May 14

Sutton Mum says...

The land the prison occupies backs on to properties within the London Borough of Sutton. The prison is therefore on the borders of Sutton and Banstead!
The land the prison occupies backs on to properties within the London Borough of Sutton. The prison is therefore on the borders of Sutton and Banstead! Sutton Mum
  • Score: 2

2:49pm Thu 8 May 14

treblegold says...

Sutton Mum is labouring under a misapprehension. The boundary between Sutton and Banstead runs down Fairlawn Road. I assume that the properties to which she refers are the houses in Fairlawn Road - but these are in fact in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead, not the London Borough of Sutton. Both High Down and Downview prisons are indisputably in Banstead, and I am still unclear why the Sutton Guardian is so reluctant to make this clear.
Sutton Mum is labouring under a misapprehension. The boundary between Sutton and Banstead runs down Fairlawn Road. I assume that the properties to which she refers are the houses in Fairlawn Road - but these are in fact in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead, not the London Borough of Sutton. Both High Down and Downview prisons are indisputably in Banstead, and I am still unclear why the Sutton Guardian is so reluctant to make this clear. treblegold
  • Score: -1

8:35pm Thu 8 May 14

Sutton Mum says...

Due to having lived on Fairlawn Road for many years, I can confirm my property was in London Borough of Sutton.
Due to having lived on Fairlawn Road for many years, I can confirm my property was in London Borough of Sutton. Sutton Mum
  • Score: 1

6:43am Fri 9 May 14

treblegold says...

Sorry - but that is simply wrong! Check the Sutton Borough website if you don't believe it. You will find there are only two houses in Fairlawn Road which fall within the borough boundary - but neither of them backs onto any prison land.
Sorry - but that is simply wrong! Check the Sutton Borough website if you don't believe it. You will find there are only two houses in Fairlawn Road which fall within the borough boundary - but neither of them backs onto any prison land. treblegold
  • Score: 1

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