The IMB for HMYOI Deerbolt today publishes its Annual Report to the Ministry of Justice, covering the period from October 2014 to September 2015.
The Board reports that the prison had an eventful year including, a change of Governor, the introduction of new working arrangements with lower staffing levels, and a prisoner riot (swiftly brought under control)
The new Governor took immediate steps to support staff in tackling one of the prison’s most pressing problems – the quantity of drugs getting into the prison, mainly so-called NPS (New Psychotic Substances). Some prisoners trying these drugs become violent with staff or fellow prisoners, while others become so ill that ambulances have to be called. Prisoners go into debt to buy drugs and this leads to further violence, or threat of it, as repayment is enforced.
One way drugs come into the prison is as packages thrown over the outer walls, and prisoners try to retrieve the packages via cell windows. The Board is pressing the Ministry of Justice to fund the urgent replacement of cell windows facing the outer walls with a secure type that offers ventilation without opening.
The Board reported that in the 2014/15 period Education in the prison was severely compromised after numerous instructors resigned. Furthermore the Board observed that the policy of Education was in conflict with the practical needs of most of the prisoners. Education wanted prisoners to follow courses in sequence to achieve externally recognized qualifications, while the priority of the prison regime is that young prisoners should spend as much time as possible out of cell engaged in meaningful activity. Over the last few months these problems have been addressed and new instructors have joined.
The Board compliment the prison staff on their high professional standards in dealing with young offenders many of whom display challenging behaviours.