Prison dental care criticised by inspectors

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DENTAL care of prisoners is one of many problems highlighted in a watchdog’s annual report on Edmunds Hill Prison.

The report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) also voiced dissatisfaction with some of the food served to inmates and how staff cuts may affect the offender management unit.

The report is the last the IMB will publish on the 370-inmate prison before it merges with the adjacent 944-capacity Highpoint Prison.

Last year the IMB criticised the merger saying it could impact on prisoner training and rehabilitation.

The recent report, covering January 1 to December 31, 2010, reveals there is a long wait to see the dentist at the prison and that the board believes pressure needs to be put on the NHS Primary Care Trust until the problem is solved.

They go on to say that while the prisoners’ food is nutritious, the budget of £2.10 per prisoner per day means food served to those with specialist diets can become monotonous and give rise to complaints.

They also say that the offender management unit has been hit hard by budget reductions and due to staffing cuts, officers may have to be deployed to different duties.

The report states: “Whilst it is hoped that probation support officers will be able to take over some of the work, the IMB considers it essential that this department is always staffed adequately, to enable it to produce timely reports that affect prisoners’ release and sentence planning.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We thank the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Edmunds Hill for their report which will be fully considered by ministers. We will respond to the board in due course.”