The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP High Down report a disappointing operational year due to continued uncertainty surrounding the future role of the prison
The Board believes that the prison has been in a state of flux throughout the reporting period due to uncertainties surrounding the re role to Cat C. This has affected plans for the future and had a negative impact on outcomes for prisoners.
In addition, the prison still requires significant investment to provide sufficient work/education places to function as a Cat C prison.
The staffing number for Band 3 officers has risen considerably since 2017 yet the Board continues to see ‘shut downs’ in areas such as education due to staffing levels.
The Board has spent a disproportionate amount of time monitoring the Segregation Unit during the reporting year. On several occasions concerns were expressed about the management of the unit, the conditions in which prisoners were being segregated and length of stays. This was also highlighted in our 2017 Annual Report. Of major concern was the overuse of Special Accommodation, a dedicated cell with strip cell conditions, during the latter part of the reporting year, particularly for prisoners on ACCTs (Assessment Care in Custody Teamwork: a care plan to monitor prisoners at risk of self-harm).
The Board acknowledges that the prison has had to deal with a large number of prisoners suffering from mental health or behavioural problems but is concerned at the number of prisoners who say they ‘do not feel safe’ in a prison with rising violence. Prisoner on prisoner violence has risen by approximately 20% since 2017, and prisoner on staff violence by 40% in the same period. The Board considers this unacceptable.
The Board believes that some of these safety issues have to be attributed to the accessibility of drugs in the prison, as highlighted in HMIP Inspection report findings in 2018.
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