Conditions at Glen Parva young offenders' jail are 'deplorable'
Conditions at a young offenders' jail have been condemned as "deplorable" by a prisons watchdog.
A report into Glen Parva Young Offenders' Institution has found some cell blocks built using prison labour in the 1970s are badly deteriorating and are in an unacceptable condition for both inmates and prison staff.
The prison's Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has published its latest annual report on the 808-capacity prison.
It said serious improvements were needed.
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The report, which has been sent to the Ministry of Justice and governor Michael Wood, said water from the prison's poorly-maintained toilet plumbing system leaked out of the pipes and seeped through the walls, causing "a horrible smell that fills the corridors and cells on regular occasions".
The report also said the prison for 18 to 21-year-olds "operates within the confines of a sprawling campus of largely shabby buildings" which "continue to degrade over time, despite the best efforts of the management and staff".
The IMB is made up of 14 volunteers, who visit the prison weekly.
Board member John Schatz said poor conditions could undermine staff efforts to keep order in the overcrowded prison. He said: "Deplorable is the only word for some of the conditions. Some people might well say 'So what? They are criminals, why does it matter what conditions they live in?'
"But the sentence for any crime is the deprivation of liberty and beyond that prisoners need to be treated appropriately.
"We must remember we are dealing with volatile young men and if they live in poor conditions there is increased potential for disorder."
The board also warned the policy of transferring prisoners into Glen Parva from other regions "has recently introduced an increasing level of gang rivalry, thereby adding yet another dimension to an already toxic melting pot".
Mr Schatz said: "We are not suggesting the staff cannot keep control. They are highly-motivated and handle the volatility very well. But they are working in very difficult conditions."
The IMB raised concerns about poor quality and quantity of food, long delays for dental treatment and that few were assessed for release on licence for community work.
At the moment, the prison holds inmates serving sentences of up to four years.
The Government, however, is planning a £70m expansion with new buildings for prisoners aged 15 to 17, who would be kept separate from older inmates.
Mr Wood said: "I accept some accommodation requires refurbishment. The prison's estates department work tirelessly to maintain conditions to a satisfactory level.
"All cells are certified as fit for purpose and any considered not to be are taken out of commission."