THE partner of an inmate at Erlestoke Prison, near Devizes, says the level of violence and drug taking is far worse than in the top security jail where he spent the first two months of his sentence.

 

She fears for the safety of her 34-year-old boyfriend who was sentenced to 30 months in prison in February for taking money from the company where he worked as a director.

 

She said: "I am frightened for his safety both physically and mentally and I am determined to keep trying to highlight the issues in Erlestoke. "When he arrived at Erlestoke on an afternoon no one was fed until the following evening, they were not given their property for four days, so no toothbrush or tooth paste, clean underwear or socks until after the weekend.

 

"The cell was in a disgusting state with blood and faeces everywhere and no provision of cleaning products. My partner cut his hand and was advised to go to the nurse after the weekend to have his blood taken for a HIV test where he was also given immunisations for Hepatitis and had to wait three weeks for the results."

 

The 30-year-old shop worker said that when her partner was moved to Erlestoke she looked it up and read a Gazette story about last year's riots and an interview with new governor Tim Knight in which he said the regime was safe and prisoners were keen to learn. But she said: "I can certainly say that this is not true. During his first week he attended a careers meeting where the advisor failed to turn up and the whole session was used as an excuse to pass drugs around, he was approached and asked to take some drugs back to his wing. The situation is the same with chapel on a Sunday - an excuse for drugs to be moved around the prison.

 

"My partner does not get involved and tries to keep his head down and just get through his sentence but another time an inmate stole some of his belongings and smashed up the empty bed in his cell.

 

"Inmates use both marijuana and spice in front of the officers and they turn a blind eye to it. In his letters to me he states that he does not feel safe either in or out of his cell. He said it is clear that it is the prisoners who run this prison and not the staff."

 

This week Mr Knight declined to speak to the Gazette about the accusations. A prison service spokesperson said: “We are committed to making prisons places of safety and reform and giving offenders the support they need to turn their lives around.

 

"HMP Erlestoke has taken a number of steps to improve prison safety and additional prison officers have been recruited to provide specialist support for prisoners with mental health issues.

 

"These measures, along with the urgent action taken to stabilise the estate by tackling the drugs, drones and phones that undermine security, will help reduce crime, create fewer victims and safer communities."