I recently visited Chelmsford Prison. I have always been concerned about levels of violence in our prison, particularly the risk of violence against officers. I was pleased to hear that improvements have been made since my last visit.
Violence has decreased, due to a number of measures that have been introduced in recent years. The smuggling of drugs into the prison has significantly reduced due to body scanners, improved security fencing, windows and cctv to prevent “throw overs”, and measures to prevent mail infused with spice.
The prison is now fully staffed and the Governor described the relationship with the local police and NHS as “good”.
When prisoners leave prison they are far less likely to re-offend if they have a job. I was told about work with local businesses to help ex-offenders into work. Our prison is also working on a pilot program with West Ham Football Club, prisoners taking part learning coaching skills and through the program take part in programs to improve their reading and literacy skills.
Following the court backlogs that built up during the pandemic, there are still high numbers of inmates held on remand. To help address this and to reduce costs of transfers to and from court the prison is investing in new video suites, so that prisoners can attend court appearances remotely, where appropriate .