PRISON bosses have been told that further improvements are necessary in the wake of a snap inspection of Northallerton’s young offenders institution.

The inspection team found the prison had not made any significant progress since its last inspection - and that its resettlement work had not kept pace with national practice.

The findings followed a short unannounced inspection of the jail carried out in November last year as a follow-up to a major inspection in October 2005.

Northallerton is a small, 252-inmate capacity, establishment, holding young adult men, usually serving short sentences or close to release.

Previous inspection reports have identified the difficulty it has had in providing effectively for such a population, and have expressed the hope that it would acquire the focus and resources to do so.

But the latest examination showed - "disappointingly" - that had not been the case.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers said: "Northallerton is, in many ways, a victim of poor planning and under-resourcing for young adult men in the prison system.

"It is far from clear what role it is expected to fulfil in the short time most of its prisoners spend there."

She added: "One option would be for it to focus on, and significantly strengthen, its role as a resettlement prison for young men from the north-east.

"This is an age group that is at high risk of re-offending and needs considerable support both before and after release. However, at present, many will simply be marking time at Northallerton."

Among other things the inspectors found that while the prison was reasonably safe there were deficiencies in the procedures and processes to support that and staff engagement in violence reduction work was often superficial.

The physical environment was found to be far from ideal with too many cells and communal areas that were dirty or poorly furnished.

Relationships with staff were said to be reasonable, but largely superficial, and the personal officer scheme was ineffective.

And, while the quality of education and training had improved since the last inspection, there was too little of it - and 40 per cent of the inmates were locked in their cells during the day.