Officers 'could lose control' at prison facing £1.1m cuts
PRISON officers face losing control of a jail housing some of the country's most dangerous criminals if stringent budget cuts go ahead, inspectors have warned.
The governor of HMP Full Sutton, near Pocklington, has been told to make savings of £1.1m this year.
The jail's independent monitoring board has now warned the cuts could lead to unrest at the prison, one of the highest-security jails in the country.
A report produced by the board says: "There may well come a time when the implementation of cuts in services and facilities will lead to a potential loss of control, making the prison unsafe for both staff and prisoners.
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"The board has again expressed concern at the scale of budget cuts and the inevitable impact this will have on the prison regime and is concerned that this may possibly result in increased tensions within the prison.
"The board is concerned the future security and stability of the prison will be increasingly difficult to maintain as further austerity measures are required over the next three years."
The report will be submitted to the Government to be considered by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
The board has asked Mr Grayling to respond directly to its concerns about the cuts being implemented at the prison.
In its report in March last year, when the jail was forced to make cuts of £1.7m, the board warned it could lead to a security crisis.
In its latest report, the board says: "The board is impressed with the progress made by the prison, especially as during the past year the organisation has had to take radical, and potentially destabilising, measures to achieve very steep financial savings targets.
"Costs have reduced by 5.1 per cent and the board is very concerned that despite this success the governor now has to find a further 4 per cent savings during 2013-14.
"Despite the fact that Full Sutton has been noted as the most expensive prison in the High Security estate, the board is pessimistic that such savings can be found without significantly eroding the welfare of the people in custody. The board will monitor progress on this key issue vigorously."
Despite its concerns, the board says Full Sutton is a well-managed prison that is performing well.
At the time of the board's inspection in November last year, the high-security jail held 609 Category A and B male inmates.
The report says the board is also concerned over cuts to education within the prison and the unwillingness of other jails to accept vulnerable prisoners transferring from Full Sutton.
However, it says assaults at the prison have reduced by 57 per cent since 2008 and it is generally safe and secure.
Serial killer Donald Neilson and infamous prisoner Charles Bronson have both spent time behind bars at Full Sutton.
Current inmates include serial killer Dennis Nilsen, Jeremy Bamber, who shot his family dead, and gangster and drug smuggler Curtis Warren.
A Prison Service spokesman said they take the responsibility of keeping prisoners, staff and visitors safety "extremely seriously".
He said: "We have a zero tolerance approach to violence in all our prisons and have systems in place to deal with incidents quickly and robustly, with serious incidents referred to the police immediately.
"The report by the Independent Monitoring Board into HMP Full Sutton will be considered by Ministers who will respond in due course."