HMP Leyhill is a well-organised prison, say IMB

The Independent Monitoring Board for Leyhill Prison has today published its Annual Report for its last reporting year 1st February 2015 – 31st January 2016.

The Board’s Chair, Allan Taylor, said that HMP Leyhill is a well-organised prison operating in an open and attractive setting and, overall, provides a safe, decent environment to prepare the men it holds for release back in to the community. Whilst generally well maintained, the out-sourcing of maintenance activities has taken some time to bed in, resulting, on occasion, in delays to repairs of several key areas such as the kitchens and some of the washing and toilet facilities.

The Board noted that over the year the balance of the prisoner population continued to change with an increase in the proportion of men serving life and indeterminate sentences. Although this change in the population has had an impact on the efficient management of some prisoners’ sentences and on the timing of some temporary release programmes, the establishment, despite a significant number of management and staff changes throughout the period, continued to effectively manage this increasingly complex group of prisoners and maintained, as a norm, good respectful relationships between staff and prisoners.

The input of those prisoners trained by The Samaritans as Listeners, those staffing the Prisoner Advice Centre and Prisoner Consultative Committee, and those acting as Carers, Orderlies or assisting with the induction of new arrivals continue to contribute to the maintenance of a generally calm and safe environment. Those prisoners involved in the external multi-agency Great Expectations Project aimed at reducing offending and re-offending by young men continue to make a significant positive impact on those with whom they interact whilst, at the same time, achieving positive personal benefit.

Pastoral care was generally good as was Healthcare which, with a few exceptions, was equally as good as in the community, whilst the provision of palliative care when required, was excellent. The active promotion and monitoring of Equality and Inclusion policies played a major part in enabling the prison to be a reasonably cohesive community and where issues were identified, these were quickly addressed.

Despite every effort and a zero tolerance policy, drug use continued to be a problem, even though the transfer back to closed conditions of offenders identified as being involved in drugs, went some way to minimising the problem.

The Learning and Skills programme was revamped to give greater emphasis to vocational courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications and linking Learning and Skills to Sentence Plans.

Much effort was expended in seeking to provide meaningful employment, either inside the establishment or outside in the community, for all prisoners of working age, medically fit and not in education. The nationally introduced changes to policies governing the release of prisoners on temporary licence introduced the previous year continued to limit the number of prisoners allowed to work out in the community and, though a high overall employment rate was maintained throughout the year, there continue to be significant periods when, in several areas of employment within the establishment, the amount of work available left prisoners with little or nothing to do whilst technically at work.