IMB praise pioneering work of Warren Hill prison

Independent Monitors say that Warren Hill has continued to develop well since its re-role from a juvenile to an adult prison early in 2014. They conclude that the small size of the prison, the dedication of the staff and the strong leadership have produced a generally humane, enabling and purposeful culture.

Warren Hill now provides entirely for adult men and includes a pioneering regime for those on life or indeterminate sentences for whom an open prison is regarded as inappropriate. These men are released directly into the community once they have demonstrated to the Parole Board their increased sense of responsibility and reduced risk to the public. . During the year 58% of those applying for parole were successful.

The Independent Monitors are critical of the education provision but say that improvement has started under a new contractor. They also say that the slow progress of building work caused long delays in providing adequate work opportunities. The preparation and serving of food and the prison service’s care in transferring prisoners’ personal property have also been matters of concern.

The Chair of the Monitoring Board, Colin Reid says “Warren Hill is helped by its small size, clear sense of purpose and the good relationship between staff and prisoners. This enables many men to make progress and to feel more hopeful about themselves. Nevertheless the policy imposed on the prison of not allowing any men to be released on temporary licence does restrict its ability to prepare them in a step-by-step way for discharge into the community, sometimes after many years behind bars.”

Members of the Independent Monitoring Board come from a wide range of backgrounds and, having been appointed by the Ministry of Justice, they each give two or three days a month to ensure that prisoners are treated decently and fairly and prepared appropriately for release. Colin Reid said “We are the eyes and ears of the local community in the prison”. Between them the Board Members visited the prison 299 times during the year to the end of May 2016.