While the whole world was locked down due to the Covid pandemic, life for women locked up in Foston Hall prison was restricted to an even greater level. Since March 2020, most of the prisoners only had 30 minutes a day for exercise out of their cells, increasing to two half-hour exercise periods in the summer when restrictions eased and staffing numbers enabled
In their 2019/2020 annual report, the Foston Hall Independent Monitoring Board, who are volunteers appointed by the prisons minister to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and humanely, raise a number of concerns – and also welcome a number of improvements during the reporting year.
Positive aspects of the Foston Hall regime include the:
- Care and professionalism especially in supporting mentally unwell women
- Provision of in-cell phones and video visits to help maintain family ties
- Corona virus pandemic was well controlled.
While the IMB welcomes these positives, it remains concerned that :
- There are high numbers of incidents of self harm and assaults
- Most prisoners are routinely confined to cells most of the day with very limited time outside for exercise.
The Board also welcomes the appointment of a new permanent Governor after a year with six changes of leadership.
Chair of the Board sue Wall comments
“As we all know the past year has been extremely difficult for everyone, prisoners and prison staff included. The Board has some real concerns about some aspects of provision at Foston Hall, which are highlighted in the full report. Nevertheless the Board has been impressed by the commitment and care of staff ensuring that overall prisoners are treated humanely. Significant efforts were made, day in and day out, to keep the women well-informed about the pandemic, to ensure their health and well-being at a time when the whole country was struggling”