HMP Kirkham adapts to the challenge of handling an open prison environment in a pandemic

The IMB have praised the Governor of HMP Kirkham for ensuring the health and safety of the prisoners, staff and volunteers during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

In its annual report, the Kirkham IMB notes that:

  • During the pandemic the Governor has provided excellent leadership in ensuring all staff and prisoners were kept safe as well as fully informed each time changes had to be made to the regime. The Board were kept updated with all changes as they arose.
  • The reporting period begun with the introduction of an abscond strategy. This offered additional support for prisoners on arrival at Kirkham and helped new admissions to settle in whilst assessing potential abscond risks, in line with policy to reduce drugs.
  • To ensure family ties during the pandemic prisoners were given added phone credit, electronic visits were introduced (purple visits) and mobile phones were lodged with the prison and used by prisoners to make calls under supervision.


However, the level of drugs used, and drops has increased during the pandemic.  The Governor has involved the local police and dogs search teams to monitor the ongoing situation and help prevent further incidences.


IMB Kirkham Chair, Ruth Gili-Ross, said:

“This year has been like no other.  Despite the pandemic, the frequent change in regimes, the continued building work and closure of workshops, the planning and installation of temporary living units, the working and living conditions at HMP Kirkham have remained a safe environment for both prisoners and staff.

The staff in all areas have worked extremely hard, on many occasions in unfamiliar areas of the prison to keep everyone safe.  Chaplaincy and healthcare staff have flexed without warning, to meet the needs of the residents and staff.

Holding regular, clear communications with the prisoners has enabled compliance and understanding.  We have seen prisoner and staff relationships improve and seen everyone at the establishment working together.

The IMB are confident that continued involvement with the police and dog search teams will deter, reduce and prevent the contraband entering the establishment, making the prison a safer place to live and work in.”