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'Serious concerns' over rock-bottom Thamesmead prison

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 July 2013 | UPDATED: 17:03 25 July 2013

The Ministry of Justice has admitted 'serious concerns' about a privately-run Thamesmead prison which came bottom of a prison league table released.

Thameside, opened next to top-security Belmarsh, was giving a rating of one out of four stars - only matched nationwide by Oakwood, in the West Midlands, and Winchester jail in Hampshire.

This means that the jail’s performance is of serious concern.

In May the chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick gave a damning report into the institution, labelling it ‘one of the most restrictive regimes ever’. He also said levels of assaults were ‘unusually high’ and prisoners ‘lacked confidence in inexperienced staff.’

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

The private company was recently criticised by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling of overcharging on its contract for electronic tagging.

Wyn Jones, Serco’s director of custodial services, said: “These are early days at a brand new prison and it takes times to develop and embed innovative systems, new working practices and initiatives.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Justice and our delivery partners to achieve an excellent standard and implement the recommendations made by the chief inspector of prisons in his recent report.

“We are pleased that Serco’s four other prisons achieved level three ratings and are confident that HMP Thameside will mature into a high-performing prison.”

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