Departing governor praises prison

The departing governor at a Norfolk prison is confident it can cope with expansion into one of the largest in East Anglia.

The departing governor at a Norfolk prison is confident it can cope with expansion into one of the largest in East Anglia.

Michael Wood, 55, left his post of governor of Wayland prison, near Watton, after three years in the role to become governor of Lincoln prison this week.

Stepping into his role in the interim is former deputy governor Sharon Kelvie, who will oversee the expansion of the category C prison to house an extra 300 in-mates, bringing the total to 1,000.

Mr Wood praised Ms Kelvie and said staff, also expected to grow in number by up to 100, would have the training and new facilities to cope with the addition.

"Our biggest challenge will be managing our capacity build due to come on stream in January, but we are planning and managing that positively," he said.

"I am more than confident: this has been managed and planned well, there are proper purposeful activities and full regimes for the new prisoners."

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But he added he thought there would be no more room to expand the prison further within the current site.

Mr Wood joined the prison service in 1974 and has always worked in the eastern area, first joining Wayland as a senior prison officer in 1985.

He left to serve in a number of roles, including deputy governor of Norwich prison, before returning to Wayland as governor in 2004.

The prison recently retained its "high performing" status for the third year running in an annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board, but was found to have serious shortcomings in its provision of mental health care, which it said were starting to be addressed.

Mr Wood said he was proud of the achievements in providing rehabilitative training and forging links with business to provide a path for inmates back into society.

He said: "I am very pleased with the Wayland staff and what we have achieved together."

The prison prides itself on its high-specification workshops where inmates can gain electrician, plumbing, building and many more qualifications.

"We have a full regime that allows us to address the offending behaviour of the prisoners and prepare them for the successful release and resettlement," he said.

"We do that with vocational training, interventions and education - we treat our prisoners fairly and with dignity."

He said he hoped the prison would continue to develop links with employers locally and nationally to improve the chances of former inmates finding employment.

The Ministry of Justice is advertising internally for a candidate to take over as governor at Wayland.

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