HMP Wakefield is fair and humane but more support is needed for its ageing prisoner population, says Independent Monitoring Board in its annual report for 2016-17

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), made up of public appointees from the local community, is very pleased to report that prisoners are treated both fairly and humanely in Wakefield Prison. The Board continues to be impressed with the way in which the Prison staff sustain their efforts, and manage to achieve a focus on continual improvements rather than resting on past successes.

IMB Chair, David Smethurst, said: “A large proportion of prisoners at Wakefield are serious sex offenders.  The prison has a challenging task, reflecting the nature of the prisoners’ offences, many of which are denied by the offenders, as well as the aged Victorian fabric of much the Prison, and inevitably limited resources.   However, our Report concludes that greater, more specific care is needed for the constantly increasing numbers of elderly prisoners within its ageing population, equivalent to care which would be received outside prison.  The Board urges the Minister and HMPPS to actively support the plans which the Prison has in hand to address these matters, and to consider appropriate solutions. 

The Board is also concerned that efforts to provide meaningful and purposeful work for the working age prison population are frequently frustrated by problems of achieving adequate numbers of training staff, and volumes of contracted work.  These are practical problems which should also be considered and addressed at a national level.   We commend the efforts of HMP Wakefield staff in their prisoner-centred ethos and their success in working towards greater rehabilitation of the serious offenders held within the prison.”  

HMP Wakefield is one of only eight High Security Prisons in the country. It manages around 750 prisoners, including many of the highest risk categories. Since most of the prisoners are long term serious offenders, the Prison focuses not on preparing prisoners for release, but on securing positive adaptations to long sentences, acknowledgement of offences, and addressing future risks of offending, so that where possible prisoners can progress through the prison system to further rehabilitation in lower security category prisons. Major strides are being made in all these respects in Wakefield Prison.

  • The full report can be read here