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EIGHT deaths in custody at Belmarsh prison are still awaiting inquests up to four years after they happened, a report says.

The delays are revealed in an Independent Monitoring Board annual report on the Thamesmead prison covering the period from July 2011 to June 2012.

It praises the 910-capacity facility, calling it a "well-managed prison with a very competent management team and a dedicated workforce".

Report authors say the prison has coped well with funding reductions, though future budget cuts could affect the way the prison is run.

And it also states there were eight deaths in custody from 2008 to 2010 still awaiting inquests. 

The report said: "There seems to be very little improvement from last year in the expedition of these cases despite the appointment of a second coroner. 

"It is unfair on families and prison staff for cases to exceed 18 months, as a maximum guideline, from the death in custody."