HMP Hewell provides a poor environment for both prisoners and staff and is yet to overcome the widespread use of illicit drugs and mobile phones or to provide appropriate resettlement support, says the annual report of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) published today.
The IMB, which comprises volunteers appointed by the Minister to check that prisoners are being treated decently and humanely, concludes that despite some improvements and a determination to move the prison forward, it still has some way to go to create a service fit for the 21st century.
In its Annual Report for the period October 2017 to September 2018 the Board noted improvements including:
• the installation of drone netting;
• the start of a window replacement and refurbishment programme; and.
• better communication and a determination on the part of most staff to make HMP Hewell a safe and secure environment for all.
However, the Board remains concerned that;
• inconsistent implementation of rules allows a justified view by prisoners that they are sometimes treated unfairly;
• the loss of prisoners’ property remains a problem;
• although the Board concludes that prisoners overall are treated humanely, the disruptive behaviour of some prisoners compromises the humane treatment of others;
• the very poor fabric of some parts of the establishment has a significant impact on prisoners;
• prisoners with disabilities are inadequately catered for; and
• access to illicit drugs and mobile phones exacerbates the challenge of dealing with a largely transient prison population.
The Board is concerned at the degree of ‘churn’ within the prison population. The transient nature of much of the population (for example high numbers of prisoners coming in on remand) has a negative impact on the quality of prisoners’ preparation for release.
The Board restates its view that holding Public Protection (IPP) prisoners (those who are serving indeterminate sentences with no date set for release) in category B local prisons is inherently detrimental to their chances of progress towards successful release.
IMB Hewell Chair Rodger Lawrence said: “The Board recognises some areas of improvement since its last report, but we remain disappointed that HMP Hewell does still not, in our view, provide a service fit for the 21st Century. Improvements in staff numbers are welcome though the proportion of inexperienced staff presents a challenge in dealing with a complex prison population despite the largely dedicated attitude of the staff. The transient nature of much of the population at HMP Hewell presents barriers to meaningful rehabilitation. We welcome the start – albeit slow – of a refurbishment programme but we remain concerned at the poor and sometimes inhumane accommodation within parts of the establishment. “
Overall the Board felt Hewell Grange, a Category D open prison on the same site, provided a positive regime for prisoners although shabby buildings and failing toilets were matters of concern.
Read the report in full here.