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Inside ‘shabby’ UK prison where inmates forced to wear bin bags as they exercise

Prisoners are given bin bags to wear instead of coats during exercise at a "shabby" UK prison where inmates are often "bored," a new report has found.

The "stark" conditions at HMP Deerbolt were highlighted during an inspection, which also found dirty toilets and the processes to manage violence inside the Category C prison and young offender institution in "disarray."

Deerbolt is a Category C prison near Barnard Castle, County Durham for men aged 18 to 24.

The HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report noted that the prison had been impacted significantly by the covid pandemic, Teesside Live reported.

Three years on from their last visit, inspectors “again found a mixed picture, showing a deterioration in safety outcomes and the quality of regime, but improvement in work towards resettlement.”

However the 66-page report raised a string of key concerns over life inside, with inspectors noting: External areas were pleasant, but exercise yards were stark.

"Prisoners were not provided with coats an we saw some using bin bags to protect them from the rain.

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In terms of dealing with violent incidents, despite over 180 assaults last year only "serious incidents of violence were investigated."

A shoddy picture was painted of the monitoring programme for those involved in violent incidents, with the report adding: "As a result, some prisoners were locked up for several weeks without meaningful human contact, welfare checks or any indication as to when the restrictions would end. "

Some, it found, were locked up all day – bar 20 minutes to take a shower and make a phone call – while much of the estate was branded "shabby and in a poor state of repair".

Concerns were also raised over the prison's "bleak" segregation unit – where only one of the two showers worked while the exercise yard was "as barren as" it was in the last inspection.

"None of the cells had access to electricity, other than a light switch and cell call bell. The regime on the unit was minimal, with half an hour on the exercise yard, time for a telephone call and shower, and a visit by the duty governor and nurse every day," stated the report, which found it needed "urgent refurbishment".

"Most prisoners spent 23 hours each day locked in their cells with little useful activity to fill their time," the report went on.

It found "many prisoners spent most of their days bored or asleep in their cells."

Inspectors say there are "few meaningful incentives" to encourage good behaviour among young inmates.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said "much more needed to be done to see that work, education and recreational activity was reintroduced as a priority.”

Overall, Mr Taylor said: “Deerbolt is a prison which retains great potential." There was a reduction in violence and self harming at the institution.

After issues were raised in the report, it is understood that cell refurbishments will get underway shortly.

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