In its 2020-21 annual report the IMB highlighted the difficulties of running a prison service at a time of a major pandemic. However, prisoners remained safe and Covid 19 cases were relatively few. But difficulties were highlighted including prisoners being locked in cells for 22 hours per day, the need for more mental health support and lack of education/training opportunities during the pandemic in a resettlement prison.
In its annual report, the Lancaster Farms IMB notes that:
- The prison, through the hard work of the Governor and staff, continued to offer a safe environment for prisoners;
- Continued access by prisoners to good physical healthcare support through the prison’s primary healthcare team;
- Additional daily welfare checks were prioritised for prisoners exhibiting stress and anxiety.
However, the annual report identified how the pressure on prisoners being locked in cells for over 90% of the day, the concern for prisoners’ mental health including the number of incidents of self-harm and the reduction in education, training and family visits caused by the pandemic.
IMB Lancaster Farms Chair, Robin Talbot, said:
“The Lancaster Farms IMB has produced a balanced report based on its monitoring of the prison from February 2020 until the end of January 2021. The prison staff have worked over and beyond to maintain a good service during that time and, whilst there were some cases of Covid-19, the prison worked hard to keep its site covid-free. However, the pandemic has led to reductions in what all of us would look to see in a resettlement prison. Fewer education and training opportunities, continuing stress and anxiety in prisoners in their final part of their prison sentences, disruption to planning for release, cases of self-harm and long periods when prisoners couldn’t meet or speak to their families.”