Owers expresses concern at use of force and segregation at Chelmsford

    Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers has expressed concern over
    the increased use of force and segregation at Chelmsford prison and
    young offender institution, in an inspection report published
    today, writes Maria Ahmed.

    The report, from an unannounced inspection in August last year,
    found the number of incidents requiring the use of force “had
    risen” since the last inspection.

    It said that while the reasons “were not entirely
    apparent,” force had been used on young prisoners following a
    period of unrest in the young adult’s wing.

    Inspectors also raised concerns over routine strip-searching of
    inmates placed in segregation and the use of strip clothing for
    those in the special cell.

    The report found that some of the segregation unit policies
    “were not acceptable,” but said these were changed
    during the inspection.

    Inspectors also found that purposeful activity time “fell
    well short” of what was required, with many prisoners and
    young adults spending 20 or more hours a day locked up in their

    The report criticised “inaccurate” record-keeping of
    the time inmates spent out of their cells which meant that managers
    were not fully aware of the “inadequate” provision.

    The prisons inspectorate also found that two immigration
    detainees were being held without charge at Chelmsford following a
    disturbance at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre.

    Both detainees told inspectors their legal papers had been left
    behind at Harmondsworth “aggravating their isolation and
    uncertainty,” the report said.

    The report recommended that immigration detainees should not be
    held in prison, and said all cases of detention should be
    “frequently reviewed”.

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