Inmate complaints at Whitemoor Prison almost double in eight years

COMPLAINTS made by inmates at Whitemoor Prison, March, have almost doubled in eight years.

Figures released by the Prison Service reveal that 1,439 complaints were logged in 2002 - but by 2010 this had risen to 2,816, with 65 related to diversity.

A Prison Service spokesman attributed the rise to improvements in logging and reporting procedures.

But Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, told the BBC that a Ministry of Justice report in November found “a real lack of relationship between staff and prisoners” at Whitemoor.

“Prisoners are trying to find some sort of hope and meaning for their lives,” she said.

“They’re going to be there for a long time, and that wasn’t being given to them by staff.

“It’s a prison that’s without direction and without purpose.”

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Ms Crook praised the “relaxed and constructive” attitude in Whitemoor’s mental health unit and asked why the whole prison couldn’t be run in a similar fashion.

She added: “You have a high number of very committed and articulate Muslim prisoners and an overwhelmingly white staff who come from rural backgrounds.

“Their backgrounds are completely different and alien to the people they’re guarding.

“It doesn’t mean it can’t work but it does require very sensitive management.”

The Prison Service spokesman said: “We are determined to deal with prisoners’ issues quickly and efficiently.

“A formal complaints process plays an important part in defusing concerns, and many issues can be resolved in a positive way before they become serious.”

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