The prison inspectors have made a follow up IRP to Isle of Wight after their inspection in the summer of 2019. In the press release announcing of their report they said:
Inspectors revisiting HMP Isle of Wight to review improvement following a full inspection last year found a mixed picture and assessed overall that progress was not good enough.
The training prison holds about 1,000 prisoners across two separate sites, almost all serving long sentences for sexual offences but with a small number on remand. At a full inspection in April–May 2019, its purposeful activity – education, training and work – was assessed as good, but outcomes for prisoners had declined, against the previous inspection in 2015, in the areas of safety and respect and continued not to be sufficiently good in rehabilitation and release planning. At an independent review of progress (IRP) in January 2020, inspectors reviewed progress against 11 key recommendations from the full inspection.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “Taken as a whole, progress had not been good enough in the majority of areas. There had been good progress in three, reasonable progress in two, insufficient progress in one and no meaningful progress in five areas.”
There was a significant difference between how work had progressed in areas local managers had responsibility for and those that required national support from HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
Local managers had made reasonable or better progress in five out of seven recommendations. In the safety area, this included important work to determine the causes of violence and challenge or support individuals involved in violent incidents. Prison managers had also ensured that staff understood their roles and responsibilities in the event of a medical emergency. However, there continued to be significant weaknesses in the operation of the incentives and rewards policy.
In the area of respect, managers had worked well to improve systems for prisoners’ applications and redress. Social care had also been improved by the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding with the local council.
In rehabilitation and release planning, there had been some work to improve oversight of the department and train prison offender managers (POMs).
In contrast to the progress made by local managers, Mr Clarke said, “all four recommendations that required external support from HMPPS had been rejected and so no progress had been made.”
These included taking steps to ensure basic standards of decency by reducing overcrowding and ensuring all prisoners had access to a toilet overnight. “During this visit, we found that about 160 prisoners continued to live in overcrowded cells. In addition, most prisoners on the Albany site continued to live in cells without a toilet or sink. Instead they relied on night sanitation, an electronic system that allows prisoners out of their cells individually to use communal facilities overnight.”
Mr Clarke continued: “Prisoners, including older and disabled people, were allowed seven minutes to use the facilities, which many said was not long enough. It was not uncommon for prisoners to face a wait of an hour. This meant that many resorted to using a bucket in their cell and effectively ‘slopping out’ in the morning. This was not an acceptable situation.”
HMPPS rejected a recommendation intended to ensure sick prisoners were transferred to a mental health facility in line with national guidelines. Inspectors found that one patient who had been waiting too long for a hospital bed during the inspection was still waiting at the time of the IRP visit eight months later. HMPPS also rejected a recommendation that remand prisoners should be held at an establishment that could meet their needs.
Overall, Mr Clarke said:
“This was a mixed review. Local managers had worked well and made progress in some important areas. However, HMPPS needs a change of approach to ensure accommodation meets basic standards and all prisoners receive appropriate support and health care.”
To read the full report click HMP Isle of Wight IRP, Report on an independent review of progress at HMP Isle of Wight (7–9 January 2020)
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