During 2017, the experience for prisoners in HMP Leicester continued to improve. This is the judgement of the Leicester Independent Monitoring Board, whose report for the 12 month period ending 31 January 2018 is published today.
The Board reports that the Governor remains energetic and determined to make the best use of limited facilities, with the support of a hard working senior management team and an engaged body of staff. The constructive interactions between staff and prisoners remain a strength of the establishment, and more staff are now present, because of transfers from HMP Glen Parva and new recruitment.
Although the Victorian accommodation remains delapidated, decency has been improved by some limited refurbishment, and the prison is cleaner and brighter. A complete redesign of the prisoner Visits Hall has transformed the visits experience for the prisoner and his family, and has also created a valuable space for community engagement projects. The Gatekeeping process for the transfer of seriously mentally ill prisoners to secure hospital accommodation has been much better managed. There has been progress in tackling violence and drug use, and there is a new initiative for the management of disruptive behaviour. The establishment became non-smoking in July.
Kevin Moody IMB Chair said “Overall the Board feels that prisoners are treated fairly and with respect. They now have more opportunities for purposeful activity and more help to prepare them for release. Ofsted rated education and work and skills training as Good in January 2018, and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company has formed strong links with community partners. Prisoners are able to meet and receive support from organisations including Turning Point, Leicestershire Cares, Voluntary Action Leicester, Housing Options, Timpsons Academy and the Mitie Foundation during Resettlement Fairs held every three months, and at special events.”
2017 was characterised by an outstanding programme of cultural enrichment events which were commended by IMB for increasing prisoner confidence, morale, literacy and sense of pride and well-being. ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the successful TEDx event in May, was followed by a varied programme of ‘Pop-up’ musical and spoken word performances, and art events, culminating in October in a two week long ‘Talent Unlocked’ Arts Festival. Collaborators included Soft Touch Arts, the University of Leicester and The National Space Centre. The partnership with De Montfort University as part of the Square Mile project has continued to prosper, and visitors who were welcomed to the establishment have included the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Streets of London Orchestra and Lamboginny.
Mr Moody added “IMB has highlighted some concerns. Both during the year and in this report we have drawn the Minister’s attention to the poor performance of Amey in delivering the maintenance and repair contract, and asked that this be addressed. In addition we point out some inefficiencies in the way the resettlement process operates at present. IMB has also asked the Prison Service to overhaul the arrangements for the care of prisoner property during transfer between establishments.”
IMB was pleased that when HM Inspectorate of Prisons visited the establishment in January 2018 they found significant improvement in all four healthy prison tests – safety, respect, purposeful activity and rehabilitation and release planning.
IMB Leicester comprises 15 unpaid public appointees who made a total of 354 visits to the prison in 2017. Members monitor day to day life within the establishment, and thus have a unique role among the organisations that scrutinise the Prison Service.
Read the report in full here.