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Thursday, 24 July 2014

New prison governor ‘guided by criticism’

THE new governor of HMP Haverigg has said he will take criticisms levelled at the prison as guidance.

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ARMISTICE DAY: New prison governor Steve Valentine (right) lays a wreath with chief constable Craig Mackey at the memorial service at Haverigg Prison JON GRANGER REF: JON_0425

Steve Valentine joined the prison from HMP Manchester, better known as Strangeways, in September.

After three months in the job Mr Valentine has said it has been a challenge to adjust from his high-security past but was adapting to life at a low-security prison.

Mr Valentine said he would be looking to build on the work of his predecessor, Martin Farquhar, and despite the different approaches to prison governance, he said they shared the same aim.

The prison was recently awarded a silver Investors in People award, recognising its work with staff.

Mr Valentine said: “There’s an awful lot of really good work going on here.

“Winning the award is a reflection on the proud staff.

“It has been a complete change of culture coming here from a high security prison but I am beginning to see how I have to adapt – taking up the mantle of governor casts a long shadow.

“There are some changes that will arise as a result of me arriving but we will be building on past achievements.”

In a report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons published shortly after Mr Valentine took up his post in September, the prison was described as “too violent” and having poor quality accommodation.

Mr Valentine said the report had provided some guidance.

He said: “Inevitably, following the report there would be some concern about the type of accommodation but in fact issues are external, inside it is well maintained.

“We would take on board the criticisms but the report is written to try to help the prison become a better place.”

Mr Valentine said one of his main passions was working to ensure HMP Haverigg made progress to ensure it remained in the public sector prison service.

He said: “The whole service is moving rapidly and some of those changes are about future competition and making sure this establishment remains within the public sector.

“I am absolutely committed to a public sector prison service and I wouldn’t want it to be questioned while we are able to meet the needs of the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service.”

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