‘FRUSTRATIONS are high’ among prisoners at HMP Thorn Cross due to day release being cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic, a report has found.

The Appleton Thorn jail was one of three category D facilities visited by the HMP Inspectorate of Prisons on June 9.

And inspectors found that ‘successful action had been taken to protect prisoners from Covid-19, the continued suspension of release to work in the community was having a negative impact.

Day release privileges were suspended in March due to the lockdown, other than for those employed as key workers.

But chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said: “11 weeks later, we found a sense among prisoners that the establishments had lost their purpose.

“Many prisoners had worked for years to gain the opportunity to move to open conditions, and evidence a reduction in their risk of reoffending and build or rebuild ties with family and the community.

“Others had been working out in the community for some time and had begun to build a new life even before release.

“Prisoners felt the loss of opportunity keenly and levels of frustration were high.

“Most understood the need for the restrictions, but were anxious to know when they would be relaxed in line with the lifting of some restrictions in the community.”

Inspectors also found variations in the way the three prisons identified essential workers.

At HMP Thorn Cross, no prisoners had been deemed as key workers while a ‘limited number’ had been accepted as such at the two other sites visited.

Meanwhile, the external doors at Thorn Cross prison were locked ‘for much of the day’ and inmates were only allowed outside during their designated exercise periods.

The report found that this was ‘at odds with the ethos of an open prison and not defensible’.

At the other two jails, prisoners ‘continued to enjoy the freedom of an open prison as long as they adhered to social distancing rules’.

Mr Clarke added: “This report notes the successful action taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“It also highlights inconsistencies between prisons and the significant impact that the lack of release on temporary licence is having on prisoners held in open prisons.”