Although Thameside prisoners generally feel safe and the Serco-run prison is fully staffed, its Independent Monitoring Board calls for more hostel accommodation to be available to prisoners on release to reduce re-offending.
In its annual report, the Thameside IMB notes that:
- Thameside is a humane prison and prisoners are treated fairly and generally feel safe; good staffing levels are achieved through a determined recruitment effort;
- all and any violence is unacceptable but, in contrast to many other establishments, the level did not increase in Thameside during the reporting year;
- the prison enables prisoners to maintain strong links with their families in a range of ways, including storybook dads, family visit days and ready telephone access.
However, too many prisoners are not able to thrive on their release because of factors outside of the prison’s control, especially the poor availability of suitable accommodation in the community.
IMB Thameside Chair, Dr Barbara Judge, said:
“We monitored a sample of 74 men due for release within a fortnight and found a stark contrast in outlook between those who had a home to return to and those who didn’t. Those with a home to go to were looking forward to release but 45% of our sample thought they would be homeless and were not confident (or were sometimes fearful) about their future. Prisoners are often referred to their local authority for housing, but none is available in the majority of cases. Too many prisoners indicate that they will probably re-offend in order to be returned to the security of prison.
We are therefore calling on central and local government, charities and the London Mayor to increase the availability of good hostel accommodation as a vital factor in reducing reoffending.”
The full report is published on www.imb.org.uk/reports/