A CRISIS-hit Worcestershire prison is being closed down after damning inspection reports.

The open accommodation at HMP Hewell, which houses around 200 inmates, has been called totally unacceptable and will be closed for good.

Decommissioning the accommodation at Hewell will now take place and it is expected the open jail will close by March 2020.

Prisoners who will not be released before closure of the site will be relocated to other suitable prisons, although it is still unclear where they will be transferred to.

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A prison service spokesman said: “We have taken the decision to close the open accommodation at HMP Hewell as its current condition is unacceptable and refurbishing it would not deliver value for the taxpayer.

"This government is spending £2.5 billion to transform the estate – providing 10,000 additional prison places and creating modern, efficient jails that rehabilitate offenders, reduce reoffending and keep the public safe.”

They added it is hoped the closure will be managed without the need for compulsory redundancies or “voluntary exits”.

HMP Hewell, near Redditch, has two prison sites; a male category B prison holding 870 prisoners, and an open prison of about 200 prisoners.

Inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons found a marked decline in treatment and conditions for prisoners at both the closed and open sites.

Safety and purposeful activity were classed as poor, the lowest grading, at the closed site, a category B local prison. This was the third consecutive poor rating for safety at the closed site – and was a “cause of great concern.”

At the open site – in a Grade II-listed building at Hewell Grange – there was “a very unusual, and for an open prison, totally unacceptable mixture of outcomes.”

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “At the open (category D) site we found that, extraordinarily for an open prison, it was poor in both purposeful activity and rehabilitation and release planning.

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"Living conditions were the worst I have seen in this type of establishment. The dormitories were crowded, and in many cases the cubicles were untidy and dirty, and there was a great deal of food waste, dirty clothing and other rubbish.”

The inspection proved so damning that Mr Clarke considered invoking the rarely-used Urgent Notification (UN) process, which would require the Secretary of State to respond publicly within 28 days with plans to improve the prison. However, he decided against doing so.