Budgetary cuts and too few officers put prisoners and prison officers at risk at HMP/YOI Chelmsford

In its latest Annual Report, covering the 12 months to 31st August 2016, HMP/YOI Chelmsford’s Independent Monitoring Board (“IMB”) highlights the negative impact which budgetary cuts and the failure of the Prison Service to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of prison officers has had on the safety of both prisoners and prison officers.

While the Board recognizes that this is a major problem throughout the Prison Estate, it is concerned that there continue to be significant problems at Chelmsford in retaining officers, and because of high levels of staff sickness.

The report also expresses the IMB’s ongoing worries at the high levels of bullying and self-harm, which have increased sharply during the period covered by this report.

The Board also reports on the very poor and deteriorating physical condition of the oldest, Victorian part, of the Prison and, in particular, the Segregation Unit, where prisoners are held following infractions of the Prison’s rules or for their own safety.

Another of the Board’s major concerns relates to the poor performance of the Prison’s Healthcare services, which are provided by Care UK, and the lack of secure mental health accommodation available outside the Prison for many of its most vulnerable prisoners.