The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Huntercombe – made up of volunteers appointed by ministers to check that prisoners are being treated humanely – is pleased to publish its report for the reporting period January to December 2018.
The Board commends the prison for its fair and humane treatment of prisoners and notes that the number of violent incidents fell by 50% on the previous reporting period, and that the number of prisoners feeling that they experienced discrimination fell by 17%.
Whilst the Board is appreciative of the work done by the prison in preparing prisoners – who are all foreign nationals – for resettlement, it is dismayed that, despite raising the matter in its last two reports, the prison still does not have a dedicated resettlement budget. In this regard, the prisoners in Huntercombe are not treated equally with UK national prisoners.
For those prisoners that are adjudged to have a right to remain in the UK at the end of their sentence, the decision is often arrived at too late for them to have received any resettlement preparation for release into the UK
The Board is concerned that the maintenance and enhancement of physical infrastructure of the prison is not keeping pace with the demands placed on it. The prison kitchen is in urgent need of replacement. The kitchen was originally designed to cater for 240; the prison population now stands at 480. Prisoners’ property continues to be a concern for the Board and is one that it has raised continually in our annual reports.
John Evans, Chairman of the IMB at HMP Huntercombe, said:
“The Board commends the prison for the overall effectiveness of the operation and its humane treatment of prisoners. The prison makes great efforts to prepare prisoners for resettlement outside the UK but is hamstrung by the lack of a specific budget and central support.
“Unfortunately, our reports are becoming predictable and repetitive, every year we mention the lack of a resettlement budget, the problems with prisoner property and the need for a kitchen and wearing infrastructure. We make appropriate recommendations to ministers and the Prison Service and yet the following year we find ourselves making the same suggestions. However, the Board remains undaunted and is optimistic that action will be implemented.”