Hard work and personal commitment shown by staff during pandemic, but restricted opportunities for prisoners

The annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Standford Hill, which covers the year from April 2020 to March 2021 highlights that the prison is well run and has coped extremely well during the height of the pandemic, especially given the impact on staffing levels caused by the covid-19 ‘Kent variant’.

However, the Board notes the impact on prisoners with restricted regimes and no family visits. Residents emphasise missing family and friends especially, which is compounded by boredom and long periods of inactivity – which inevitably caused distress for some.

The Board reports that

  • Technology facilities need to be improved to equip prisoners for their future careers after prison.
  • Kitchen facilities need to be improved to cater for the increased numbers, as the prison expands to over 700
  • The re-offending rate at Standford Hill is among the lowest in the country and strong focus has been maintained on this key metric in the last year.

Peter Le Beau, MBE, Chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board at Standford Hill, commented “We believe as a Board that the prison is well-run, has coped extremely professionally with the pressures of the pandemic and is ready for the expansion of accommodation and facilities that is getting under way over the next year.  The Governor and her officers deserve credit for being able to preserve a degree of normality in trying and unique circumstances”.

The prison  also needed to respond to concerns raised in the summer of 2020 summer of 2020 by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Peter Le Beau commented “The BLM protests were recognised by the management at Standford Hill, who looked at ways in which they could respect the views of different ethnic groups and listened seriously to concerns.  We believe that the culture of the prison is sound and conscious of the need to understand concerns of all diverse groups”.