Number of serious offenders on the rise at Leyhill open prison
THE number of serious offenders serving sentences at Leyhill open prison at Tortworth has increased significantly in recent years, the Gazette can reveal.
Following last week's report in the Gazette that the Ministry of Justice had refused to divulge information on the severity of offences committed by prisoners at Leyhill, the Gazette was sent the annual report of the prison's Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for 2012/13.
The IMB report, which was published in July this year, shows that the number of prisoners with life sentences or indeterminate sentences (Lifer/IPP prisoners) has increased to more than 40 per cent of Leyhill's population following a change in policy at government level.
Leyhill has a maximum capacity of 527 prisoners and until recently the number of the more serious Lifer/IPP prisoners was capped at 120. This year, however, the number rose to 200.
"The increase, particularly in IPP prisoners, has had a significant impact on the running of the establishment," the report noted.
The report also revealed that Leyhill is one of only two open prisons in the country to accept sex offender and child offender life sentenced prisoners.
Further research by the Gazette has uncovered a report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in which the main offences of the inmates at Leyhill last year are listed.
This report is on the website of the same Ministry of Justice that last week felt it an infringement of prisoners' rights to let Gazette readers know what the offences were.
A full list of the offences is listed in the panel here and is not as specific as the Gazette and many of its readers would like but it does reveal that sexual and drugs offences and crimes of violence are the top three crimes committed by Leyhill prisoners.
The inspector's report also showed that the overwhelming majority of Leyhill inmaters, 358, were white British, with 54 black or black British and 42 Asian.
More than half the prisoners are aged between 30 and 50, with 25 over 60 and 12 over 70. There is a special unit at Leyhill for prisoners who require end-of-life care but funding is not available to staff the unit adequately, the inspector's report noted.
Leyhill prison was the first open prison in the country. It opened in 1946 and was designed to prepare prisoners with long sentences for release back into the community, a task it still performs.
To read in full both the reports referred to above go to www.justice.gov.uk and type HMP Leyhill into the search box at the top of the home page.
The main offence for which prisoners at Leyhill were sentenced
* Violence against the person (60 current inmates)
* Sexual offences (74)
* Burglary (29)
* Robbery (49)
* Theft and handling (32)
* Fraud and forgery (33)
* Drugs offences (87)
* Other offences (131)
* Civil offences (0)
* Offence not recorded/holding warrant (8)