In its annual report for 2018/19, the Wandsworth IMB – made up of volunteers appointed by Ministers to ensure prisoners are treated fairly and humanely – highlights the following concerns:
- There continue to be insufficient efforts to help prisoners find work and accommodation (two key markers to prevent recidivism) on release.
- The majority of the approx 1,500 prisoners are sharing extremely cramped cells in buildings constructed in 1851.
- The uncertainty over the timing of the re-roll into a Reception Prison is disruptive and has affected planning and longer-term decision-making.
- The 12 bed Addison Mental Health Unit is unfit for purpose and for the sixth year running the IMB report highlights the delays in transferring severely mentally ill prisoners to secure psychiatric hospitals.
- Exacerbated by an aging prison population, there is a chronic lack of wheelchair accessible cells. This results in disabled but otherwise healthy men having to be accommodated in the six-bed Jones hospital wing and therefore blocking beds needed by ill prisoners.
The IMB Chair, Elizabeth Barker, said:
“We have raised a number of serious issues for the Governor, the Prison Service and Ministers to address. However, we recognise the hard work of the prison staff, the majority of whom are new to the service. The Board commends them all for their dedication and professionalism.”