The Independent Monitoring Board for Eastwood Park Prison has recently published its Annual Report for 2015.
The Board is pleased to report on a number of positive developments at Eastwood Park during 2015:
- A high proportion of women prisoners have issues with their mental health. This year the prison has opened a new wing for women with Personality Disorder and has increased the level of service for women throughout the prison and specifically for those women with complex needs.
- The Education department was the best performing in the South West providing a range of educational opportunities and support.
- Nationally, 110 Prisons were entered into the 6 Book Challenge countrywide and Eastwood Park won a Gold Award, one of only 12 in the country.
- Eastwood Park now has an almost full ante-natal service that can be delivered at the prison rather than needing to be escorted to external services. Further developments are planned for 2016.
- A Band 6 Senior Practitioner has been appointed and successfully completed the Nurse Prescriber Course. This means that the skills within the Team are increased providing an additional point of expertise for the other staff to refer to.
However, basing its comments on its weekly monitoring visits, the Board highlighted a number of concerns:
- The increasing number of self harm incidents at Eastwood Park compared with last year.
- The delays in completing the refurbishment of the 2 wings and the impact this has had on the prisons ability to move forward on other plans for the regime.
- There is a small but significant number of women for whom mental health rather than criminality is their main problem and who end up in prison because other parts of the criminal justice and healthcare systems have not provided a safety net.
- The increasing use of segregation is a concern that we also had last year.
- The frequent need to go back to Minimum Staffing Levels has been a feature although the impact this has on regime curtailment seems to have been limited.
- Some of the facilities on residential wings have been below standard due to an aging prison with the need for frequent maintenance and the sometimes slow response of the new facilities suppliers.
The Independent Monitoring Board at Eastwood Park considers this prison to be, in general, a safe, secure and decent environment with fair and just treatment of prisoners, in spite of recent staffing constraints and increasing levels of self harm and violence.
Summing up, Board Chair Stephanie Winson said: ‘If Eastwood Park is to continue to provide such an environment and develop effective interventions for its very complex population, then greater resources must be found and, critically, staffing levels across the prison must be addressed.’