Inmates beaten in 'sheet' attacks
Young prisoners are being tied up in bed linen and beaten by other inmates, a new report has said.
The practice, known as "sheeting", is seen as horseplay by some staff at Forest Bank prison, in Salford, Greater Manchester, but the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, condemned it as "serious bullying" which needs to be stopped.
"A very vulnerable young man who spoke to us described it as him being tied up inside a duvet cover and 'battered' every night," he said. "A number of prisoners talked to us about 'sheeting' and these were incidents that the prison had recorded on a number of occasions. A prison officer on a wing described it to us as horseplay. Prison management had limited knowledge of it. We are satisfied this does occur and needs to be stopped."
Forest Bank, a category B local prison for adult and young adult men, was operating under its full operational capacity of 1,424 prisoners at the time of the inspection between June 29 and July 9, the report said.
About half of the prison's 110 young adults were held on the A1 landing, where most of the incidents of sheeting took place and inmates there identified "serious concerns about their safety", the inspectors said.
"A prisoner was forcibly put inside a duvet cover and the opening knotted so that he could not release himself while perpetrators carried out random acts of violence," Mr Hardwick said. "Prisoners told us that it was common and we met a number of young people who had clearly been victimised in this way."
He added: "We were concerned that for a small minority of prisoners, it was not at all safe and in some cases, prison officers on the wings had a passive attitude to bullying and unexplained injuries - however good the policies."
The chief inspector called for the prison to investigate "the actual level of violence and bullying on A1 wing, use this information to inform the anti-bullying strategy, and work actively with prisoners to eradicate sheeting". But he added that Forest Bank was a "good local prison" which was safe for "most prisoners".
Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service (Noms), said: "The issues about safety for some prisoners are a concern and they are now being urgently addressed by the director and his senior managers."
But he added that he was pleased with the improvements recorded overall.