Eastwood Park’s Independent Monitoring Board, the body that monitors the day-to-day life in the prison, has recently published its Annual Report for 2015/16. The report, which is submitted to the Secretary of State for Justice, highlights concerns at the prison, including a number of deaths and a rise in violence and self-harm. The report, which is based on observations from nearly four hundred monitoring visits, also underlines the positive work of the staff in the prison.
Summing up, The Independent Monitoring Board Chair, Ms Di Askwith said:
“The Board was most concerned about the number of deaths that happened in custody during the year. Each death is tragic and The Board recommends that the planned changes to address this should take place without delay.”
“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.”
Basing its comments on 374 monitoring visits, the Board highlighted a number of concerns:
• The low level of staffing and the impact this had on both prisoners and staff. Fewer staff on duty meant less meaningful interaction with prisoners and in the Boards view a negative impact on the regime and treatment of prisoners.
• Levels of violence and self-harm continue to be a major concern.
• The Deaths in Custody during the year were tragic and the Board is concerned that the planned changes to address these take place promptly.
Talking about the positive work of the prison, Ms Askwith commented:
“During the year IMB members reported seeing many examples of staff treating prisoners with care and compassion. Some of these involved very difficult cases where seriously mentally ill prisoners provided daily challenges.”
Ms Askwith added:
“The Board was also concerned about the number of women serving short sentences. We were often approached by women who were worried about their children and losing their homes. There must be opportunities to improve the options for women to serve their sentences in the community”
The full report is available at Eastwood Park 2015-16 Annual Report