Ford Prison governor reveals drink and drugs purge

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FORD PRISON governor Sharon Williams has told councillors about a tougher regime at the jail imposed since the new year.

Ms Williams told members of Climping Parish Council about tougher tests and punishments and pledged to strengthen links with its members.

The meeting took place last Thursday behind closed doors with members of the public and the Bognor Regis Observer excluded.

But councillors discussed the matter at their regular meeting immediately afterwards.

Council chairman James Baird said: “The meeting with the governor was as open and frank as she could possibly be.

“She was not allowed to go into too much detail about events surrounding what happened on New Year’s Day because of the ongoing legal enquiry.

“But we were able to ask questions and I think I speak for us all when I say the governor answered all our concerns if she could.

“Foot patrols at night have been increased. More drugs and alcohol testing is being carried out and, if a prisoner is arrested, it is done in full view.

“They are taken away in marked cars and their sentences widely publicised in the prison.”

Members were also told that, although the prison’s risk assessment had not changed, it was more stringently regulated.

“When we asked about our concerns over the wrong categories of prisoner being sent to Ford the governor reassured us that when this was the case the prisoner was kept in a holding cell and not released into the prison. They are then sent back,” said Cllr Baird.

He said councillors had been keen to know about the prison’s communication policies during incidents like the riot.

He said: “She told us all information is controlled centrally and it is therefore out of her control.

“But she also said communication is a two-way street and if members of the community see people running drink or drugs to the prison then they need to report it.

“She also spoke about initiatives the prison is running with the police and local liquor stores where they think the alcohol is coming from.

The parish council decided to write to Ms Williams to ask for visits to the prison for the community to be arranged this autumn.

They also decided to take up the governor’s offer to review the prison’s risk assessment policy and ask for the dates of meetings between the prison and alcohol outlets so a council representative can attend.