Independent monitors express serious concern about the lack of training and rehabilitation facilities at HMP Eastwood Park
Accommodation problems having a major effect on the rehabilitation / resettlement of female offenders
In its annual report Eastwood Park Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) – members of the community appointed by ministers to check that prisoners are treated fairly and humanely – details maintenance failures during 2018/19 which have led to training rooms being taken out of use and some courses aimed at rehabilitation of prisoners being cancelled.
The rooms are having to be used as office accommodation for staff; since preparing the report, the IMB has recently been informed that there is no funding in the 2020/21 financial year for the long-awaited new workshops and classrooms to be constructed. This will mean limited numbers of rehabilitation courses for prisoners can be delivered during this period.
In its annual report, the Eastwood Park IMB also notes that
- The prison is well run. Managers and staff treat prisoners with professionalism and respect. However the IMB is concerned about high levels of self-harm and violence.
- Women with severe mental health problems are dealt with in the justice rather than the health system.
- Whilst showing some signs of improvement, the IMB is concerned about the numbers of women being released without suitable accommodation. The result is that homelessness undermined progress made by many of the women on addressing any other offending-related issues. However, without adequate training facilities that are available in other prisons, managers and staff do not have the ability to provide the breadth of programmes required to adequately rehabilitate prisoners.
IMB Chair, Arthur Williams, said:
“There is a lot of excellent work undertaken with prisoners at Eastwood Park by a highly motivated management team and staff.
In 2018 the Government announced a Strategy for Female Offenders which referred to a comprehensive programme of work to improve conditions in custody and provide a custodial environment that enables rehabilitation and deliver better outcomes.
Unfortunately the reality at Eastwood Park is failing buildings, loss of training facilities and a troubled new build project which promised to provide desperately-needed facilities. Since preparing our report we have recently been advised that there is now no funding available for the new build project. This means that short term measures to relocate staff following building failures are now a long-term solution and without adequate facilities the cycle of reoffending will continue”.