WINCHESTER Prison has higher levels of self harm than any other local prison in the country, a damning report out today has revealed.

A recent Chief Inspector of Prisons visit found "significant deterioration" since the last report in 2016.

Recorded self harm incidents have doubled since 2016. Seven prisoners have also taken their own lives since then – three of them in the last 12 months.

Other reported concerns include safety, accessibility for disabled prisoners and violence.

The report, written by Peter Clarke who visited in June and July last year, says: "Winchester was not safe enough. Arrangements to receive new prisoners were slightly improved but still not good enough.

"Almost a quarter of respondents to our survey said they felt unsafe, and well over half of all prisoners reported feeling victimised.

"The mandatory positive drug testing rate had fallen from 30% to 16%, suggesting that some supply reduction initiatives were having an impact, but 59% of prisoners still thought it was easy to obtain drugs in the prison."

There are two parts to the prison – the local part (category B) and a category C unit for resettlement.

"Violence remained rare on the category C site but had increased markedly in the local prison, particularly against staff," says the report. "Overall this was a disappointing inspection."

It added: "Access to the reception was still via a flight of stairs that caused problems for disabled prisoners. The local site had no adapted cells for disabled prisoners and the category C site had only one."

The report also says some prisoners had asked for halal utensils on several occasions, but the were not provided with these.

Following the last inspection, 54 recommendations were made to HMP Winchester. The service achieved 13 of these, partially achieved five did not achieve 36.

Recommendations this time include having officers wear body cameras and suspicion-based drug testing put into practise.

Despite most of the report damning the prison, some aspects were commended including the delivery of health services, the food and behaviour and training work for prisoners.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the report.

Frances Crook, chief executive, said: "Turning around prisons like Winchester is one of the biggest challenges facing the Secretary of State for Justice. It can be done, but it will require a commitment to reducing the number of people behind bars.

"A new year should herald a new start – to protect staff, to reduce crime and to prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of despair."