LATCHMERE House prison in Ham this week received a mixed report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers.

Her conclusion was that the rehabilitation centre is able to assist many prisoners into work, but more could be done to exploit its advantages and prepare prisoners for release.

The report lists the prison's advantages as its location on the edge of London, close to many prisoners' homes and to employment opportunities, and the good relationships between staff and prisoners.

The report commends the improvement in the number of prisoners working outside the prison, in many cases in jobs that they could retain on release.

However, new arrivals sometimes spend months under-occupied before they are able to work, in poor conditions within the prison site, it adds.

And a new educational contract was seriously underfunded to provide the assistance that they need to prepare for work.

Inspectors also found that Latchmere House had still not developed an effective resettlement strategy, integrated into the prison's regime, which met the needs of all prisoners. This had been recommended in the previous inspection report, but not yet implemented.

Anne Owers said: "In spite of these gaps, Latchmere House is a safe and respectful prison, which is able to guide many prisoners directly into employment. This is a very positive base, on which even more can be built."

Commenting on the report, Phil Wheatley, director general of the Prison Service, said: "I am pleased that the chief inspector recognises the good work being done at Latchmere House.

"There is now a resettlement strategy in place and whilst I accept that there is more to do to, it is important that the governor and staff continue to develop this to ensure that as many prisoners as possible can benefit from the excellent resettlement opportunities at the prison."

The report was issued following a surprise visit by inspectors to Latchmere House in August.

HMP Latchmere House is a resettlement prison which holds male adult prisoners serving a sentence of four years or more, including up to 20 life-sentenced prisoners, and assists them to prepare for release.