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Prisoners can order takeaways - claim

PUBLISHED: 08:38 28 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 July 2010

FRESH claims have been made about a Suffolk prison which houses some of the country's most violent young offenders - including allegations they are allowed to order in takeaway pizzas.

FRESH claims have been made about a Suffolk prison which houses some of the country's most violent young offenders - including allegations they are allowed to order in takeaway pizzas.

One former employee at Warren Hill prison, near Woodbridge, has described how young inmates are treated to a “holiday-camp” lifestyle.

And now a second former employee has come forward with new allegations.

As well as claiming that some of the country's most dangerous teenage criminals can order in takeaways, Tim Brame, 30, said Warren Hill was understaffed and out of control.

The former operational support worker left the prison in April last year after four years working there because he felt it was unsafe.

He said: “You just feel that the whole atmosphere is uncontrolled. There is shouting and swearing and abuse being hurled at staff and it is all accepted. The staff allow it, there is no feeling that it is being dealt with. The amount of staff who have left in the past have made it unsafe to be in the prison and among the inmates.”

Mr Brame, who claimed the staff to prisoner ratio was often “touch and go”, added: “There was an occasion when two inmates managed to get on the roof of one of the activity centres and that was due to their being not enough staff to cope with that when it happened,” he said.

He said the staffing problems led to the prison taking on employees in their early twenties as discipline officers.

“That is crazy to think that there are prisoners aged 18 and these people are coming in who are not much older,” said Mr Brame, who lives in a village near Ipswich.

Helen Stanmore, 52, a former substance misuse worker at Warren Hill, claimed that prisoners lived the “life of Riley” with access to the latest video games and arcade games. She said they could even choose individual toilet seat covers for their en-suite bathrooms.

And Mr Brame has his reasons why the prisoners are given these luxuries.

“I feel that the prisoners are given these things by the Prison Service as a way of coping with the risk of violence because there is not enough staff. If the prisoners are good, they get all this wonderful stuff and equipment so they are less likely to cause trouble. The prisoners' manipulate the staff because the Prison Service does not want complaints. They tend to do as the prisoner wants.”

Another allegation by Mr Brame is that while money is spent on inmates to ensure they are comfortable, little is spent on prison staff.

He said the radio systems which are used by prison staff are “beyond suitability” for working in a prison. “There are several black areas were there is no reception and the batteries are so old that they do not hold charge. That potentially was a huge danger if something had happened like a prison guard being attacked or held hostage.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMYOI Warren Hill has a fundamentally safe and decent environment. There are dynamic security measures in place with rigorous search systems in place for prisoners and perimeter areas in order to prevent illegal objects entering prisons.”

The spokesman added: “Prison is about punishment and reform. It is anything but soft and it is absurd to suggest otherwise. The punishment of the court is a loss of liberty by being sent to prison, which combine tough regimes with the opportunity of rehabilitation.”

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