Levels of violence, self-harm and drug taking remain worryingly high at HMP/YOI Chelmsford

In its recently published Annual Report, covering the 12 months to 31 August 2018, HMP/YOI Chelmsford’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) expresses its ongoing concerns at the prison’s poor safety record, with increased levels of violence, including assaults on staff, high levels of self-harm, widespread availability of drugs, and bullying as a result of indebtedness.

It also records its regret at the 5 deaths of prisoners in custody.

The Board reports that although the number of officers employed by the end of the reporting period was close to the prison’s ‘benchmark’ figure of 174, approximately 70% have been in the prison service for less than two years.

The IMB also notes that the prison’s ability to implement its key objective of reducing re-offending was hampered by poor attendance rates at education, training and work experience sessions, and by provision of these services only being available on a part time basis.

The prison’s healthcare provision continued to be an area of concern with, often, long delays in the provision of appropriate mental health care and treatment. Demand for the 12-bed inpatient facility, serving a population of 750 prisoners, regularly exceeded capacity and staff shortages and continuing reliance on agency staff often led to delays in treatment.

Finally, the collapse of Carillion partway through the reporting year and transfer of the work to Government Facility Services Limited (GFSL) meant that there were significant delays in repairs and routine maintenance with consequential negative impact on the prison’s ability to provide safe and decent living conditions for prisoners.

Many if not most of the failings noted are common to prisons up and down the country and are related to government underinvestment in the prison service. The Board are hopeful that, with the increased resources that have now been made available, the Management Team at HMP Chelmsford will be able to implement much needed reforms during 2019.

Read the report in full here.