In their 2018-19 annual report published today, independent monitors at HMP Brixton– who are volunteers appointed by Ministers to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and humanely – highlighted that safety and security at HMP Brixton have continued to improve since thier last annual report and HMIP’s Spring 2019 inspection.
- Vulnerable men, and those whose behaviour is challenging, are more constructively and actively managed.
- There are fewer illicit drugs, though their continued presence remains a challenge.
- The keyworker scheme, under which each prison officer has regular one-to-one contact with up to eight prisoners, has improved the relationship between staff and prisoners.
- The prison places an increased emphasis on procedural justice.
- There is more focus on getting men to education and training; and those who are able and willing to take advantage of certificated vocational training are helped into work on release.
Nevertheless the Board feels that in a resettlement prison such as Brixton more needs to be done to reduce men’s risk of reoffending on release. Many of the resources required to make this happen are not in Brixton’s gift:
- The prison is short of vocational training places but has no funds to increase them; as a result many men are only employed part-time in jobs that will not help them into work on release.
- In a survey conducted by the Board in June and July, 38% of the 81 men interviewed said they had no work or training arranged on release, and no leads. 37% said they expected to be released without settled accommodation, which is in short supply in London.
- Too many men arrived at Brixton, generally their last prison before release, with no sentence plan to identify work that might be done in custody to reduce their risk of reoffending.
- Men who achieved category D status had their progression towards work and accommodation on release held back by the lack of places in open prisons: some waited many months, as did men convicted of sex offences who needed a transfer to complete behavioural training. Many men were released without being able to take advantage of these opportunities.
- Good work was done to help men keep men touch with their families, but wages (typically £8 per week) were too low for men to afford meaningful regular phone contact.
Anne Rogers, Chair of the IMB at Brixton, said: “The Governor and staff at all levels have demonstrated vision and commitment to help men turn their lives around. Their efforts can be wasted if men are not adequately helped into secure accommodation and employment on release.”