This week I visited Chelmsford Prison and met the prison governor Steve Rodford OBE. The prison is a facility for all of Essex and as the local MP I want to make sure that there is a good dialogue between myself and the staff at the prison. I was very impressed with the hard work they are doing. We discussed the challenges facing the prison and what is being done to ensure the prison continues to improve its performance. I was pleased to hear about the success of the new staff recruitment and training initiatives. The staff have also introduced new measures to restrict the drugs coming into the site and additional security.
Whilst there was a rise in assaults and other incidents last year, much is being done to address this, for instance, giving prisoners access to laptops and phones in their cells has led to a 50% reduction in the level of violence in the prison where this has been trialled. It is good to hear that Chelmsford Prison is working on a similar approach. The governor raised a number of other specific suggestions which I will be raising with the responsible ministers in Westminster.