New Thamesmead prison labelled 'one of most restrictive ever'

PUBLISHED: 12:14 14 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:14 14 May 2013

A newly-opened Thamesmead prison was put into "lockdown" last year to tackle rising violence, according to its first annual report published today.

Thameside, which opened last March next to Belmarsh and Isis prisons, was visited nine months after opening and inspectors found 60 per cent of prisoners are locked up for 23 hours a day and the use of force, while reducing, remained high.

The report also said level of assaults were high and prisoners lacked confidence in inexperienced staff. In the six months before the inspection there were 48 assaults reported on prisoners.

It goes on to say improvements were required for most aspects of the prison and Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, criticised it for being one of the most restricted regimes he has ever seen.

He said: “The opening process has been very hard and very tough.

“There remained some big gaps at the prison and there was much to do before it could be seen as operating at its full potential.”

Thameside is a Category B prison and holds up to 900 prisoners. It is privately-run by Serco.

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