HMP Leicester remained well managed, safe and settled during 2020. This is the conclusion of the Independent Monitoring Board, whose annual report for the 12 month period ending 31 January 2021 is now published.
The Board describes the prompt response to the Covid-19 situation in March 2020 and the ongoing successful measures to contain the risk. There was however a huge impact on the normal functioning of the establishment.
- A very restricted regime was in place for over 12 months, with most prisoners locked in a small, shared cell for 23 hours a day.
- The progress of most prisoners towards rehabilitation and resettlement was interrupted by lockdown. The Board has particularly drawn the attention of the Prisons Minister to its concerns for the progress of prisoners with an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP prisoners),
- There were delays in the transfer of seriously mentally ill prisoners to secure hospitals.
- While commending the success of the Covid-19 homelessness prevention measures, the Board also highlights the need to provide long term accommodation for potentially homeless prisoners.
The annual report however also details the positives and the ways in which all departments worked together to manage the situation.
- Excellent communication- a daily welfare check and free-phone contact with key departments. a funded daily phone call to family, and a video visits facility. The installation of in-cell telephony was also completed.
- In-cell education delivered by PeoplePlus, access to the library (LCC provided) and very good support from the resettlement services.
- Rapid reintroduction of face to face healthcare.
- Although the prison continued to hold some very challenging prisoners, there was a fall in the level of violence, including assaults and fights, and of self-harm. Drug availability and use also continued to fall. Extra security was introduced, with an Xray body scanner in reception, as well as on site dog handlers.
IMB Chair, Irene Peat said: “The Board was also pleased to report that after many years of neglect, an extensive capital investment programme to the accommodation was started, including fire safety works, new roofing, upgrading of the heating system and improvements to the wing landings, cells and showers, all of which will improve decency and safety for prisoners”
It is to the credit of both prisoners and staff that the establishment has remained safe and settled during this prolonged Covid-19 lockdown. Over the coming months the Board looks forward to monitoring what happens when the normal programme of education and rehabilitation is reintroduced”.