The IMB at HMP Brixton report that the prison has improved significantly over the past year and continues to do so. It is fully staffed, and there has been more focus on getting men to engage in education and vocational training. Vulnerable men, and those whose behaviour is challenging, are more constructively and actively managed. The key worker initiative was started successfully, and family contacts improved.
In a survey done by the Board in the early summer, 39% of the main population had employment on release. Most were going back to their former work, but some with good jobs facilitated by prison or agency staff. But 33% of those surveyed had no settled accommodation on release. The Board has brought this concern to the Minister’s attention, because men without housing are often also without employment; and any who are housed out of London are taken away from their local support system.
Men who achieved category D status had their progression towards work and accommodation on release held back by the lack of places in open prisons: some waited many months, as did sex offenders who needed a transfer to complete behavioural training. Within the prison, there are not enough vocational training places. The poor standard of accommodation, with most prisoners sharing a small cell with bunk beds, is not decent, particularly for older men. For instance, in July 2018 there were 21 men with mobility problems, accommodated on the first floor, with no lift.
Despite a more focused effort on preventing the import of drugs and phones, significant problems remain. Action to disable mobile phones used in prisons would be a useful step forward.
Graham King, Chair of the IMB at Brixton, said: ‘The Governor and his team, including staff at all levels and in agencies, have pushed forward with vision and commitment to make Brixton a fairer and more decent prison. We have seen many examples of humane and patient behaviour, sometimes with very difficult men. All these efforts to help men turn their lives round can be negated if there is nowhere for them to live when they leave prison.’
Read the report in full here.