HMP Featherstone managed well through the pandemic


2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for everyone and HMP Featherstone has risen to the challenge of managing a custodial environment through a well-controlled regime focussing on the welfare and safety of both prisoners and staff. It forged good relationships with prisoners through an active Prison Council so that they were kept well informed when necessary changes were required.

In the annual report for 2019-20 the IMB at Featherstone was pleased to note the following progress:

  • Consistent improvement in the updating of the buildings and facilities and general cleanliness making it a more decent place in which to live and work.
  • The prison made excellent progress in the development of the keyworker OMiC (Offender Management in Custody) initiatives which saw improved relationship building between prisoners and staff.
  • During the pandemic restricted regime there were marked reductions in levels of reported violence, drugs, self-harm and use of force resulting in prisoners reporting that they felt much safer

However the Board note the following concerns:

  • The extended period of confinement to cells for 23 hours a day has been difficult, and detrimental to the mental health of some prisoners and the likelihood that this will continue indefinitely is beginning to take its toll.
  • The IMB were concerned about the serious underperforming by the contracted education supplier in the delivery of programmes, thus affecting prisoners’ outcomes.  Prison managers made every effort to deal with these shortcomings and it was frustrating that they were unable to make progress because of the nature of the contract.

The IMB Featherstone Chair, Barbara Maiden said:

“It has certainly been a year of two halves. Prior to the pandemic the prison was making substantial progress in developing a safe and nurturing environment and providing opportunities for prisoners to improve their life chances. Since March 2020 everything has been on hold and the emphasis quite rightly has been to keep everyone safe and healthy. The Governor, staff and agencies should be congratulated on steering the prison through this very difficult time and keeping spirits high”