A difficult year in Cardiff prison would have been far worse if not for the dedication and commitment of staff, according to a report of prison monitors. The crisis in prisons across Wales and England is well known and Cardiff has not escaped it. The annual report by the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board states that staff shortages in particular have caused major issues. Along with other prisons, Cardiff has seen a rise in the use of drugs and of violence, but the overall atmosphere is calm and orderly.
“Staff shortages have put the prison under enormous pressure”, commented Steve Cocks, Chair of Cardiff IMB, “with prisoners spending an unacceptable amount of time in cells. It is well known that prisoners are far less likely to re-offend if they can be given skills and a chance of employment. Cardiff has some very good education and training facilities, but the tragedy is that the shortage of prison officers means that prisoners often cannot access the facilities.” The report describes how staff shortages have also had a major impact on other areas of the prison, such as work on rehabilitation and measures to reduce the availability of drugs.
“The restricted prison regime, together with other challenges, such as the ban on smoking in Welsh prisons and the availability of ‘spice’, have created real challenges during the reporting period”, stated Mr Cocks. “Cardiff has not escaped many of the problems in prisons nationally, but has coped better than many due to the commitment of staff and the positive relationship that has been maintained between staff and prisoners.