Compared to 2015, there were fewer violent incidents, bullying was tackled well, and there was better management of those at risk of self-harm. Management and provision of healthcare improved, especially for the mentally ill, and progress was made in tackling drug misuse.
The Board also reports that the prisoner experience improved, with more opportunities for purposeful activity, education and skills training. Resettlement services were embedding well, and an increased number of peer workers has improved access to information and advice for prisoners preparing for release. The report details an outstanding programme of cultural activities offered to prisoners, by collaboration between the library, education department and writer in residence.
The Board commended the new Governor, who took up office in February 2016, for his energy and enthusiasm in accelerating the programme of improvements that was in progress following the unfavourable report of the visit by HMIP in autumn 2015. He has fostered links with the local community, including with De Montfort University and with potential employers. He has been well supported by a hard working Senior Management Team and an increasingly experienced workforce.
The IMB does have some concerns. During 2016 a number of prisoners suffering serious mental illness were held in this prison after being assessed as requiring secure hospital care, and there were significant delays, sometimes many weeks, before they could be transferred. The Board drew this to the attention of the Prisons Minister during the year, and has included a special report within the present publication. The Board also draws attention to the very poor and dilapidated accommodation, particularly in the main wing, and has asked the prison service to consider at the very least some investment to allow upgrading of communal shower and toilet facilities which at present fall below a decent standard.
Since February 2017, there have been further positive developments to improve opportunities for prisoners and their families. These include refurbishment of the Visits Centre and waiting room, the opening of a workshop, and liaison events with potential employers. In May the first TEDx event to be held in a British prison was very successful, with the participation of staff, prisoners and invited guests.
Chairman Irene Peat said ‘The Board believes that during 2016 the experience for prisoners in HMP Leicester improved in most areas, because of good leadership and a committed body of hardworking staff. The establishment has renewed energy, and a readiness to adopt fresh ideas, and we look forward to this continuing over the next reporting year.’