IMB Swinfen Hall raises concerns of treatment of prisoners

 The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP & YOI Swinfen Hall has raised concerns over prisoner treatment, despite some good features being observed in the past year.  In its Annual Report for the period May 2016 – April 2017, the Board notes:

  • the poor quality of accommodation in the Care and Separation Unit (CSU) and Wings A, B and C, and the poor standard of shower facilities;
  • the impact of the cancellation of association time, when prisoners can leave their cells for exercise, to socialise and make telephone calls, often with little or no notice;
  • the reduction in prisoner access to mental health cover, and to counselling services for those who have been abused or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders;
  • deficiencies in the preparation of prisoners for release, because the national system for prisoners transferring to a resettlement prison is not working, and
  • insufficient numbers of prisoners having access to ‘purposeful activity’ – education, employment and training.


IMB Chair for Swinfen Hall, Fran Ridge, commented:

‘Whilst the IMB is raising some very serious concerns, we also recognise that there have been some improvements and areas that operate well that include:

  • a programme to replace windows in Wings A, B and C, although the overall quality of the building fabric in these wings and in the CSU still remains unacceptable;
  • well-trained staff in the CSU who form good relationships with prisoners and who work hard to return prisoners to their normal location;
  • a more welcoming Reception area with the reception process working well;
  • a decrease in the amount of self-harming;
  • an adjudication process that operates fairly with prisoners made aware of their right to legal representation and to appeal the final decision;
  • an improvement in the quality of food;
  • a significant reduction in the waiting time for access to healthcare clinics, and
  • good quality offender management and sentence planning.’

She added: ‘Nonetheless, we have raised some of our concerns repeatedly in previous Annual Reports. We urge the Minister for Prisons, the Prison Service and the Governor to take note – and to take action.’

Read the report in full here.