The independent group that monitors the running of Erlestoke Prison, the only prison in Wiltshire, has heaped praise on staff and governor.

The report by the Independent Monitoring Board, published today, congratulates governor Andy Rogers and his team for their work in rectifying long-term problems of drugs, poor food and poor accommodation.

Simon Petchey, who is standing down as chairman of the monitoring board, writes in the report: "The board commends the commitment, professionalism and dedication of the two governors (Mr Rogers and his predecessor Doug Moon) in charge of the prison during the year, their management team and all their staff.

"They initially managed to maintain a generally humane and progressive environment despite severe financial constraints, and latterly have started to take the prison forward with new energy and vision."

The board notes the efforts the prison has made to counter drugs.

Mr Rogers said today: "We tested a third more prisoners for drugs than in the previous year with fewer positive tests.

"So far this month there have been no positives at all. I will not tolerate drugs in my prison and I intend to make Erlestoke drug free."

The condition of the dilapidated Wren Unit, which has featured in the board reports since 2003, this year passed muster because of the work done by staff and prisoners to redecorate and upgrade it.

Mr Rogers was able to announce that funding was now available to demolish the outdated facility and replace it.

The plans have gone out to tender to local building firms.

But the board still has reservations over the number of life prisoners and those on indeterminate public protection sentences at the prison, about a sixth of the prison's population, and the lack of resources to address their needs, which creates angst and friction in the prison community.