Durham prison is to change purposes after the chief inspector of
prisons Anne Owers described it as “inappropriate” for
holding women serving long-sentences writes Clare
The inspection report, which was carried out at the end of an
18-month period in which there had been five self-inflicted deaths,
found there were no policies for women in relation to suicide
management, drugs and resettlement.
Owers highlighted that more than half of the women in Durham had
at some point been on suicide watch and some of the most vulnerable
women were held behind double doors, insulated from the rest of the
While there were some improvements that managers could make to
create a better environment, Owers said: “However, we do not
believe that the environment, or the regime that can be made
available within it, are appropriate to hold long sentenced women
who need both support and sufficient purposeful
This week, the Prison Service announced that the prison would be
re-roled to become a community prison. The establishment of two
purpose-built units for women and additional spare capacity
elsewhere meant there was no longer a need to hold women and
category A male prisoners at Durham.
Deputy director general Peter Atherton said the decision meant
staff could specialise in resettling short-term prisoners in the
north-east and play an important role in helping to establish the
National Offender Management Service.