IMB Northumberland welcomes staff efforts to curtail drug supply but raises concerns about prisoner transfer delays

The 2017/18 Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Northumberland is published today (21st June).

The Board – made up of volunteers appointed by Ministers to ensure prisoners are treated humanely – came to a number of judgements including:

• Identifying accommodation for men upon release is an ongoing challenge: not having a settled place to live can make vulnerable men more susceptible to reoffending.

•  The shortage of Category D places for men convicted of sexual offences can mean approximately 20 men are often waiting for a move; the nearest Cat D prison which specialises in preparing men to make a safe and appropriate transition to release is in Lincolnshire, which affects families’ ability to visit.

•  Education and work are vital to components successful rehabilitation; the shortfall of places in work and education results in up to  fifth of men not having any purposeful activity for long periods of the day.

• The Board has not identified any instances where residents were intentionally treated unfairly or inhumanely by staff.

The Board welcomes:

•  improvements in curtailing the supply of drugs and better detection of illegal substances which find their way into the prison

•  the structured approach to dealing with violence and men who self-harm

•  the opening of the prison shop, the greater encouragement for residents to take responsibility for their own health, and remain positive about resuming life outside

•  the creation of a lasting memorial to those who served, and serve, in the armed forces, on the former RAF Acklington site where the prison now stands, which is an outstanding example of the work residents can produce.

The Board is currently recruiting and welcomes interest from members of the public who are interested in the work of the IMB.