Lowdham Grange (HM Prison) - History

History

Lowdham Grange Prison was opened as a privately financed, constructed and managed prison in 1998. Soon after the jail opening, it emerged that one of Lowdham Grange's new prisoner custody officers had previously been employed as a security guard for the gangster Reggie Kray. The officer subsequently resigned from his post at the prison.

In 2004, the National Audit Office praised the prison as one of seven prisons providing exceptionally good value. However, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons carried out an inspection of Lowdham Grange in March 2004 and reported that though the prison was well managed, "100 prisoners on average were not busy enough" in employment or education. Low staffing levels were also identified as a problem at the jail, though inspectors stated that the prison did have control of its prisoners.

In August 2005 Lowdham Grange's Board of Visitors reported an increase in violent behaviour amongst inmates. There was also an increase in drugs found at the prison. However the Board claimed that Lowdham Grange was "doing better overall than the Prison Service strictly requires."

In June 2006 a prisoner serving 10 years for burglary escaped from Lowdham Grange by hiding in a shipment of chef hats, which are manufactured in the prison's workshop.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons carried out an un-announced inspection of Lowdham Grange in 2008. The Inspectorate noted that the prison had much improved, and was well managed. However the prison was also told to do more to improve work opportunities for inmates, improve resettlement services for prisoners leaving custody, and set up an accredited drug treatment programme for inmates.

In May 2008 it was announced that the Lowdham Grange Prison is to be expanded by more than a third. The £52 million project, expected to complete in 2010, will create 260 more cells, a two-storey activities building, as well as the expansion and refurbishment of prisons existing buildings.

In September 2009, Lowdham Grange Prison was awarded Level Four status by the National Offender Management Service for exceptional delivery.

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