Within these walls

The Hunts Post takes a look behind the scenes at Littlehey Prison, which earned praise last week in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons INMATES at Huntingdonshire s only prison live in a fundamentally safe and respectful environment – that is th

The Hunts Post takes a look behind the scenes at Littlehey Prison, which earned praise last week in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons

INMATES at Huntingdonshire's only prison live in a "fundamentally safe and respectful environment" - that is the verdict of the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Littlehey Prison won praise for its educational training schemes and innovative work with its growing numbers of foreign prisoners, after a two-day unannounced inspection.

The male prison at Perry specialises in working with sex offenders, who make up 55 per cent of its population, and can hold up to 70 prisoners who are serving life sentences.

Many improvements had been made in the three years since the last full inspection in 2002, according to a report published last Wednesday by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers.

She said: "Littlehey is an impressive and improving training prison, working with some very high risk prisoners.

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'Staff are to be commended for establishing a fundamentally safe and respectful environment, but further expansion of purposeful activity is required, together with strengthened sentence planning work."

The integration of sex offenders and vulnerable prisoners into the general population at Littlehey was commended, as was the "clean and tidy environment" for which prisoners themselves are largely responsible.

The majority of the prison's 693 inmates spend their days working or in the classroom, with flexible timetables allowing part-time education and employment.

Despite the expansion and improved management of work and education, inspectors said there should be better sentence planning to ensure prisoners undertake appropriate activities.

Healthcare at Littlehey was "generally good" but the prison "continued to struggle to cope with prisoners with mental health problems", according to the chief inspector.

The 'in-reach' support team from the Cambs and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership Trust was stretched and under-resourced, the report said, with some mentally-ill prisoners confined to the segregation unit while awaiting transfer.

Arrangements should be in place to ensure those inmates are moved to another healthcare unit within 24 hours, inspectors recommended.

Prison governor David Taylor said he was pleased with the positive report.

"Littlehey is a good prison and like any other complex organisation, there are always new initiatives we have to implement," he said.

"Our staff take pride in what they do and want to achieve, and they are achieving very well.

"This report is very positive and reflective of the good staff-prisoner relationships here.

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