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Bosses at The Mount prison, Bovingdon, criticised for imposing ban on smoking in cells
1:50pm Thursday 19th July 2012 in News
Bosses at The Mount prison in Bovingdon found themselves at loggerheads with prison inspectors this year after banning some inmates from smoking in their cells.
A report released this week by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) details how former governor Damian Evans, who left the prison in January, was ticked off after imposing a smoking ban on inmates in segregation.
Prisoners being accommodated in the Care and Separation Unit (CSU) had tobacco taken off them and were instead provided with nicotine patches.
This led HMIP to express their unhappiness with the no smoking regime, claiming "prisoners are entitled to smoke in their cells".
Management at the prison is generally praised for efforts to avoid material reductions in services despite budget cuts although it is acknowledged that morale amongst staff was lower than it had been.
This was partly attributed to increasing responsibility placed on officers.
Despite this, Nick Hardwick, the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, commented: "The prison is now a much safer place, which has been achieved while maintaining reasonable levels of respect."
However the report also outlines falling staff morale, inadequate provisions for disabled prisoners and insufficient work places.
The annual report from the Independent Monitoring Board also calls for "substantial investment in the infrastructure to avoid possible detriment to prisoner health" after heating systems failed for significant periods of last year, resulting in the closure of some workshops which fell below safe temperatures.
The report - compiled following a surprise inspection in October 2011 - also notes several areas where the prison, opened in 1987 to house 500 inmates, has facilities which are inadequate for the present population of 782.
These include many shared facilities such as the kitchen, healthcare and the gym.
Provisions for disabled inmates are also cause for concern with the report calling for "reasonable adjustments" to bring the Bovingdon prison up to the standards set by the Equality Act 2010.