The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Swansea has published its Annual Report for the year ending 31st May 2015.
In the Report, the IMB recognises the continuing challenges faced by the Governor and staff and acknowledges the efforts and initiatives which have been introduced to address them.
The IMB identifies areas of concern as well as a number areas of improvement and success.
The Report highlights the continued level of overcrowding in the prison. HMP Swansea was built in 1861 to accommodate 219 prisoners and the residential block is structurally unchanged, although modernisation and upgrading has taken place. A new Wing, G Wing was opened in September 2015, adding another 60 places. However, due to the ever increasing prison population, the current operational capacity of Swansea is 515 and it remains one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country.
The IMB again expressed concern about prisoners` access to some health professionals with prisoners experiencing lengthy waiting periods for dental and eye care.
The Board recognises the excellent links that have been established with the Homeless Nurse, the Mental Health and Vulnerable Persons Outreach Nurse and local GPs.
HMP Swansea became a smoke free establishment from March 2016, in accordance with Government policy and in so doing became one of the first prisons in the country to do so. The Report noted that although the implementation was well planned and organised, there had been a number of incidents arising from the policy and there is no doubt that its maintenance will remain a significant challenge to the Governor and staff.
With a considerable number of prisoners arriving with substance misuse issues, the Report highlights and commends the work undertaken by the Safer Custody Team and the Enabling Environment Project in the development of drug recovery courses. However, despite every effort made by the Security Team to tackle the drug issue, this remains a significant problem in the prison. Added to this is the ever increasing use of New Psychoactive Substances [NSP] such as spice within the prison and the unpredictable behaviour which results from their use.
The IMB also recognises the excellent service provided by the Education, Learning and Skills Department in meeting all Welsh Government targets. The Department is an integral and valuable part of the prison regime and has introduced a number of innovative and stimulating initiatives during the year.
The Report highlights the continuous efforts being made by the prison to ensure that prisoners have access to gainful and purposeful activity.
The IMB also refer to the work being undertaken by the Community Rehabilitation Company in relation to the resettlement of prisoners and that of PACT Cymru in the provision of family casework support to prisoners and their families.
The report also highlights the work of the Catering Department and their willingness to develop ideas and suggestions despite limited budgets. The team was again awarded a five star hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency.