Prison staff 'in danger of losing control': Chief inspector of jails says disturbed inmates at Bristol having to wait too long for treatment

INMATES with psychiatric problems in Bristol Prison often have to wait months for treatment while staff on one wing are losing control to the prisoners, according to a report published today.

Judge Stephen Tumim, the chief inspector of prisons, said that lengthy waiting times for a secure bed within Wessex Regional Health Authority meant that staff had to look after 'psychiatrically ill people (who should be in hospital) for many weeks despite urgent referrals to the NHS'.

One severely disturbed man was left for four days without treatment because the health centre had inadequate procedures to deal with patients who were too ill to give their consent, according to the report. Judge Tumim said that a strategy should be devised for similar situations.

Despite two suicides within the 12 months up to January 1992, suicidal patients were only checked on every 15 minutes because of staffing problems. 'Leaving patients in these rooms continuously with only intermittent supervision at 15-minute intervals was both dangerous and unacceptable by modern therapeutic standards,' Judge Tumin said. He recommended an increase in the number of nurses so that suicidal patients could be continuously observed.

The report criticised the health centre as 'claustrophobic and difficult to staff' and said it should be replaced with a new building. However, Judge Tumim praised the prison's staff for the improvement in their relationship with the inmates since the 1990 riots when 17 staff and 12 prisoners were injured. But he said staff morale on C wing was low and there was a 'general lack of faith' in the prison's management.

In C wing, where vulnerable prisoners under Rule 43 are housed with ordinary inmates, staff said there was a danger of losing control to the prisoners. Judge Tumim said graffiti on the outside of cell doors was evidence that 'inmate culture' appeared to dominate the wing and staff seemed to have relinquished control.

Frances Crook, the director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it was very worrying when prisoners gained control and it was a 'recipe for undercurrents of violence and bullying'.

After the riots, the 1991 Woolf Report had described the general conditions as 'unacceptable'. Apart from redevelopment work, Judge Tumim said conditions had changed very little and 'it remained a busy, overcrowded local prison offering few facilities to inmates'. The regime for those serving life sentences was inadequate and should be upgraded to include facilities for cooking, recreation, counselling and advice.

Following Judge Tumim's report Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, said that the criticisms arising from the four-day inspection last June were being addressed and action included more healthcare staff as well as improvements in the prisoners' regimes.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor