0552 GMT August 25, 2019
Inmates at privately-run HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire can use the facility to capture group shots with relatives during visits, which Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) described as a ‘good innovation’, theguardian.com reported.
The prison’s operator, Serco, said the photo-booth was introduced in March last year as part of efforts to help families and children have a more positive experience of visiting their fathers.
Ministers have highlighted the importance of enabling prisoners to keep up relationships with loved ones when behind bars.
Last month, the government announced plans that will allow thousands more inmates in England and Wales to make phone calls from their cells.
The Ministry of Justice cited research that shows those who receive family visits are 39 percent less likely to reoffend.
The inspectorate also disclosed that Lowdham Grange had introduced a ‘violence hotline’ in an effort to improve safety.
Opened in 1998, Lowdham Grange holds up to 920 adult men. The inspection, which took place in August, found the number of violent incidents was high for a category B training prison, with 64 assaults on staff and 83 on prisoners in the last six months.
There had been 30 serious incidents involving weapons, some of which had resulted in puncture wounds and victims being treated in hospital. Most violence related to the trade of illicit drugs, the inspectorate said.
Inmates can use the hotline service to report concerns about violent or antisocial behavior. HMIP described the measure as an example of ‘good practice’.
It noted that the use of technology to scan mail for drugs was a ‘very useful’ initiative but said the practice of destroying all correspondence that indicated positive, including photographs and stamps, was ‘excessive’.
The chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said, “Our findings at Lowdham Grange were adequate if inconsistent. There had been some progress but there was very much the sense that the prison was doing just enough.
“We did see some innovative practice, and recent improvements needed to be embedded.”
Michael Spurr, the chief executive of HM Prison & Probation Service, said, “Lowdham Grange holds a challenging long-term prisoner population.
“Serco are committed to improving performance at the prison and we will closely monitor their response to the recommendations in this report.”
Mark Hanson, Serco contract director at Lowdham Grange, said, “We are pleased that this report highlights a number of areas of progress, good practice and innovation in the prison, particularly our new violence reduction program.
“However, we know we have much more to do to address all the recommendations in the report and embed the improvements that we been making in recent months and we are working on these as a matter of urgency.”