Bullied prisoners self harming to move jail

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Prison bullying victims are deliberately self-harming to be transferred out of a jail, inspectors warned today.

Inmates at Wealstun prison in West Yorkshire felt unsafe and were often bullied over debts caused by drugs or tobacco, the report said.

Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said there were examples to support the “disturbing perception among prisoners and staff” that inmates were self-harming to try to persuade authorities to move them to another jail.

“Staff and prisoners alike described a culture of managing bullying by removing the victim to the segregation unit and, in many cases, subsequent transfer out of the prison,” he said.

A survey carried out by the prison last February found almost one in four prisoners saw bullying as an issue, with four in five saying the most common reason was drug debts, and three in four citing tobacco debts.

One prisoner said parcels of drugs were constantly “coming over the fence”.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms), said: “The new governor and his team will develop an action plan to address the weaknesses identified.”