Violence at HMP Peterborough has rocketed over the past year as drug problems continued to ‘challenge’ bosses at the privately run jail.
A new report into the prison - which is run by Sodexo, and is the only jail in the country to have both male and female inmates - raised concern about prisoner safety over the past year.
Earlier this year a Government report into the women’s wing said action was needed due to use of force by officers, bullying by inmates and the over use of strip searching.
It also said instability on the men’s side was ‘affecting the prison’s ability to focus sufficiently on the relatively more settled female prison.’
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report said: “Violence continued to escalate with 116 serious assaults (73 last year) in the men’s prison and 17 (9 last year) in the women’s prison.
“This contributed to an increase in the use of force by officers. Force was used on 883 occasions (650 last year) in the men’s prison and 287 occasions (229 last year) in the women’s prison.
“The Board had concerns about the amount of force used in both prisons but felt force was, overall, applied fairly.
“When HMIP noted that in the women’s prison use of force was high (compared to other prisons) and de-escalation not always evident the Board monitored management’s response which was targeted and prompt.”
Drugs were also a major problem, and the report added: “Widespread drug use and availability in the men’s prison continues to have a negative impact on residents’ safety .”
In January this year, the jail had its first ever escape when sex offender Gintautas Urbonas climbed the wall, ran along the roof and then dropped into a staff car park.
The report said : “Security has since been strengthened in both prisons and escort rules re-emphasised.”
Last year the prison employed 150 new officers - however, the report said there were issues with having so many inexperienced staff members.
However, the report did praise a number of elements of HMP Peterborough, including the resettlement programme for prisoners who are released.
The report said:” Resettlement at HMP/YOI Peterborough continues to be good, evidenced by the range of courses preparing residents for release, the vocational training offer, and post-release support offered by The Link and Outside Links.”
An HMP Peterborough spokesperson said: “We welcome the findings of the IMB annual report, which has found prisoners to be treated fairly with good support extending into the community for their release, in particular bringing prisoner closer to their families through Outside Links.
“Successful rehabilitation relies heavily on these factors.
“Common to the rest of the prison estate, drugs and violence are a challenge at HMP Peterborough and the report recognises our continued focus on keeping prisoners safe and on efforts to reduce violence.”