Challenges remain at local sex offender hub, say Stafford IMB

When Stafford Prison re-roled to a Sex Offender Hub last year, the local volunteers who form their IMB (Independent Monitoring Board) reported on their initial “good start” and wished them well in helping a new type of prisoner to lead a safe and useful life in the community. However, more than a full year later, the IMB has released their Annual Report, revealing a mixed picture of compliments and concerns. The Report is available for the community to read online and in local libraries.

The vast majority of prisoners cannot complete their sentence plans which are put together to assist their rehabilitation. HMP Stafford, who is hampered by budget constraints, cannot be held responsible for the lack of Sex Offender Treatment Programmes, nor for the fact that those prisoners who maintain their innocence can receive no help.

The prison is a designated Sex Offender Hub and not what is known as a Resettlement Prison which would be funded to prepare people for discharge in such crucial areas as accommodation, employment and benefits. Despite this, up until recently 20 to 25 men were released from Stafford per month without that preparation.

The IMB is also worried that 20% of the prisoners are over 60 and many of them have serious health issues. This means that in spite of the hard work put in by HMP Stafford and Health Care, the men cannot be fully looked after. The IMB questions whether this prison could ever be an appropriate setting for them.

Described as the “eyes and ears” of the Minister of Justice inside Stafford Prison, the job of the Board is to monitor how successful the prison is in treating prisoners in a just and humane way; it also monitors the prison’s success in protecting the public by its rehabilitation work. Anyone living within 20 miles of the HMP Stafford may wish to contact the chair, Sally Osborne-Town, with a view to finding out more about this fascinating role. They should phone the prison on 01785 773000 and ask for the IMB clerk who will help them make contact.