HMP Eastwood Park report warns low staffing could compromise safety

The Annual Report for HMP Eastwood Park issued by the Independent Monitoring Board today, has warned that fluctuating levels of staffing at HMP Eastwood Park combined with high levels of self-harm and violence means prisoner safety cannot be guaranteed.

In its annual report, the Eastwood Park IMB notes that:

  • overall prisoners at Eastwood Park were treated fairly and humanely;
  • there were many observations of staff treating prisoners with care and compassion sometimes in the most challenging circumstances; and
  • the introduction of a no smoking policy was managed very well.

However, the main concern was the impact of low staffing on both prisoners and staff. The report notes that during the year there were many examples of prisoners being locked in for long periods, unable to attend education and work activities. IMB members also observed the strain on staff of managing potentially volatile prisoners during these periods, although staff and managers were praised for their efforts and continued dedication.

IMB Eastwood Park Chair, Di Askwith, said:

“The way prisoners are treated is an indication of how civilised a country we are. At HMP Eastwood Park the staff and managers always go the extra mile to make sure the prisoners experience of being in prison is a positive one. However sometimes they have struggled to achieve this. Fewer staff inevitably leads to more problems as frustrations build among prisoners who are locked in for long periods, it takes weeks for them to get an answer to requests and maintaining family contact is more difficult.

It was a major concern that the levels of self harm and violence continued to rise.”

Commenting about the lack of support for prisoners on release, Ms Askwith said:

“We were often approached by prisoners who had been given short sentences or who had been recalled, concerned about being homeless on release. For many women it seemed inevitable that we would see them again soon – and often we did. There must be something more that can be done”.

 

Read the report in full here.