Lancashire prison hit by ‘chronic’ staff shortages

Garth Prison and Wymott Prison Ulnes Walton
Garth Prison and Wymott Prison Ulnes Walton
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A Lancashire prison is beset by “chronic” staff shortages, inspectors have warned, impacting supervision, access to resources like libraries and limiting health services for inmates with long-term illness.

HMP Garth, in Ulnes Walton, near Leyland, which holds 780 inmates including 200 sex offenders, was running on a restricted regime.

A lift in a wing that housed disabled prisoners with mobility issues was rarely used due to more staff shortages, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said, while the range of services offered by the health care team was limited.

Although Garth is a training prison, most prisoners could only attend education or work for three-and-a-half days a week, while morning activity sessions were routinely shortened as staff were unavailable to supervise movement to and from activities.

In addition, inspectors said the number of violent incidents had been rising steadily. There had also been significant finds of drugs and bottles of alcohol.

However, chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick praised the prison’s ability to manage priorities while under pressure.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “At the time Garth had a number of staff vacancies but, as the chief inspector makes clear, was managing a difficult population really well.

“Since the inspection the prison has received 20 new prison officers with six more due to start shortly. The additional staff will enable the governor to address the recommendations in the report.”