Independent monitors at HMP Berwyn reported today that the establishment is still a ‘work in progress’ following its opening in 2017.
The prison’s Independent Monitoring Board – made up of volunteers appointed by Ministers to ensure prisoners are treated humanely – gives an independent overview of the work of the prison during 2018/19.
The board comments in its report on a wide range of issues and particularly highlights:
• The challenges in introducing prisoners to the benefits of self-reliance and application, as they work towards rehabilitation and a future outside the prison gates.
• The enormous amount of work undertaken in establishing and developing support services and interventions, across the prison pathways and Welsh Government identified priority needs groups, which involves internal and external partner relationships, plus third sector organisations.
However, it also raises concerns about:
• The level of illicit drugs present in the establishment; it has asked the Prison Service to put stronger measures in place to address this unacceptable situation
• The large proportion of prisoners sharing rooms, even where they have complex needs or medical conditions or are at risk of harming themselves or others – designing the prison with 70% of room’s double occupancy and 30% single occupancy causes significant challenges for both the prisoners and staff
• The problems caused by unreliable heating systems which left prisoners without heating and hot water on two occasions during the year.
Board Chair, Eileen Darbyshire, said:
“Despite all the good and successful work being undertaken on a daily basis, there are ongoing challenges of finding and maintaining the right balance between rehabilitation and security, rewards and sanctions, freedoms and control and the Board would assess these areas as ‘work in progress.’
“The lack of the promised work places and completion of the workshops has been an on-going concern of the Board and is still to be fully resolved.”