In the 2018/19 annual report published today, independent monitors at Bronzefield find that prisoners are treated fairly and with respect at Bronzefield where the quality of relationships between staff and the prisoners is high. The Board has particularly welcomed the introduction of the key worker scheme and the development of a high quality programme for those with special educational needs.
The IMB has observed that the rehabilitation of prisoners and preparation for release is undermined by a combination of a high churn rate of prisoners and an appalling lack of suitable accommodation post-release. At any one time approximately one third of the prisoners will spend three weeks or less at Bronzefield: sufficient time to have a powerful negative effect on families, housing and employment, but not for any meaningful rehabilitation.
The IMB recently undertook a survey of more than 100 prisoners about to be discharged. It revealed that 62% of those remaining in the UK would be homeless on release.
The IMB highlights the high number of prisoners with complex needs and mental health issues together with many prisoners requiring detoxification as a result of substance abuse. In spite of notably good care of such women, there has been a disturbing rise in levels of self-harm.
The IMB re-iterates its grave concern at the length of time it takes to effect the transfer of those prisoners with severe mental illness to secure in-patient mental health facilities when required. It considers their prolonged detention in normal prison conditions to be inhumane.
Alison Keightley, Chair of the IMB at Bronzefield said, ‘All levels of staff at Bronzefield succeed in providing an appropriately fair and respectful environment for what is a very mixed and complex prison population. Effective rehabilitation and resettlement continues to be undermined by external factors: short sentences, frequent recalls to prison under the provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act and the desperate shortage of suitable housing in London and the South East’