FENLAND: Leaked prison report finds problems that need ""urgent"" attention

LEAKED PRISON REPORT FINDS PROBLEMS THAT NEED URGENT ATTENTION WHITEMOOR: An internal review has uncovered extremely disturbing issues at a top security jail which houses some of the UK s most dangerous criminals. The Howard League for Penal Re


WHITEMOOR: An internal review has uncovered "extremely disturbing" issues at a top security jail which houses some of the UK's most dangerous criminals.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said a leaked report of an inquiry into Whitemoor Prison showed that Prison Service investigators had found problems which needed "urgent" attention.

One issue raised in the report was concerns about the increasing power wielded by "gangs" of Muslim prisoners, said the Howard League Conservative MP Malcolm Moss, who represents North East Cambridgeshire.

He said he also feared that something was "seriously wrong" at the prison because a number of staff had raised concerns with him.

A league spokesman said the report showed that morale among Whitemoor staff was low - and Mr Moss said he had come to the same conclusion.

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The report says that in January, Whitemoor Governor Steve Rodford asked the Prison Service's High Security Directorate to conduct a "wide ranging review" of the jail.

It says the Governor's request came after five prisoners committed suicide at the jail between November 2006 and December 2007.

The report says a 14-strong team carried out an investigation at the prison in late February.

"The review team found a number of recurring themes that were fed back from both staff and prisoners," said the report.

"Without doubt the stand-out issues were around poor communication and the rapid implementation of change.

"There is a clear need to provide staff with clear direction for Whitemoor, alongside consistent and timely messages.

"Staff need to feel more involved in the change process to increase buy-in and cooperation."

The report highlighted a series of "key findings".

They included concerns that:

There was a lack of "collective sense of purpose" and evidence of "sabotaging" the implementation of new ideas; managers and staff were not pulling in the same direction; staff did not feel "empowered" and "perceived their role had changed to that of a warder rather than an officer"; dynamic security needed promoting in order to support "better staff/prisoner relationships"; and there was a "very high Muslim population (28 per cent)" which appeared to be "leading to anxiety and apprehension among some staff".

The report added: "There is a danger of this leading to hostility and Islamophobia if it is not addressed."

League director Frances Crook added: "Much of what this internal report uncovers is extremely disturbing. It is vital that the problems uncovered at Whitemoor are addressed as a matter of urgency."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said the report was wide-ranging and comprehensive, and highlighted areas of significant progress and good work, as well as some areas requiring further attention.

"A number of measures are planned to take forward the recommendations made by the review team," said the spokesperson.


CAMBRIDGESHIRE: The county council will receive about £400,000 to set up a specialist foster carer scheme.

The scheme will reduce the number of children in residential care or placed with foster carers outside the county.

The money, announced by the Under Secretary for State for Children, Young People and Families, Kevin Brennan, will cover the cost of establishing a Multi Dimensional Treatment Foster Care programme designed to find, train and support specialist foster carers for children with a range of high care needs or behaviour problems.

Foster carers will be specially trained and supported by a dedicated team to enable them to create highly structured placements that are designed to change behavioural change.

Currently, many of the young people are living in residential accommodation in Cambridgeshire or are placed with specialist foster carers or in residential units out of Cambridgeshire.

It is expected that the new scheme will provide foster care placements for around six young people a year. The youngsters will live with foster carers who have been specially trained and provided with support from Cambridgeshire County Council's Fostering and Adoption Service.

Work will start immediately on appointing a Project Manager to oversee the details and implementation of the scheme.

Gordon Jeyes, the county council's deputy chief executive for Children and Young People's Services, said: "The county council is responsible for looking after a number of young people who have very high level care and support needs.

"This scheme will enable us to recruit, train and support specialist foster carers who will be able to care for these local young people in Cambridgeshire."


WISBECH: Wisbech Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society's spring show, The Boyfriend, premieres tonight.

It runs at the town's Thomas Clarkson Community College until Saturday. Tickets cost £12 for raised seating or £10 for flat seating and can be booked by calling 07776 318309, 01945 870393 or 01945 582758.


CAMBRIDGESHIRE: About 400 people were stop checked by police and partner agencies, in a county-wide crackdown on rogue traders who prey on vulnerable people.

Wisbech was one of the towns across the county which was covered by Operation Rogue Trader, held last Wednesday.

More than 50 police officers were joined by 20 officers from partner agencies such as Trading Standards, the Environment Agency, local authorities and HM Revenue and Customs.

They carried out patrols where so-called "cold callers" and rogue traders are known to operate.

Police dealt with traders suspected of committing crimes, Trading Standards handled issues surrounding consumer protection and local authorities made sure vehicles carrying waste were certified to do so.

Police also checked vehicles being used by traders to ensure they meet regulations and to ensure tools and plant equipment being used are not stolen.

No arrests were made but various Trading Standards offences were uncovered, property seized and intelligence gathered.

Inspector Billy Bremner said: "The operation was very successful in raising awareness of rogue trading activity and gathering valuable intelligence, which will inform future operations.

"This type of crime is particularly appalling because its victims are often those who are most vulnerable.

"Our advice will always be not to use cold callers and to ask for a business card so you can consider what is being offered at your leisure."

Trading Standards said there have been 19 rogue trading incidents in the county so far this year, with £50,000 being lost in those incidents. A further 19 attempted scams were reported, but no money was lost as residents became suspicious.


WISBECH: A man's crusade to help young drug addicts will have to be put on hold for the next month, because he has been given a curfew order keeping him indoors every night.

Fenland magistrates were told last Wednesday that 63-year-old James Lee gets calls from drug addicts all through the day and the night.

"He would prefer not to have a curfew, he has a pivotal role in helping young people addicted to drugs," claimed solicitor John Hartley.

"The Bridgegate drug advisory service is aware of the work he does, in the community; he has been commended for it."

Lee was being sentenced for carrying an offensive weapon and shoplifting, and breaching a conditional discharge for theft.

He stole a £2.98 torch from Asda, and when searched, was found in possession of a lock knife that his late wife gave him.

Lee, of New Drove, Wisbech, also admitted being in breach of a conditional discharge imposed last September for an offence of theft.

Lee has to stay indoors between 8pm and 6am for the next four weeks, and pay £100 costs.