The group of local volunteers who oversee the treatment of prisoners view with approval the progress made in establishing a regime in which prisoners are encouraged to undertake rehabilitation. They commend the dedication and professionalism of the staff, especially in the face of challenges posed by the COVID pandemic.
In its 2019-20 annual report, IMB The Verne comments that:
- The Verne is a well-run establishment where prisoners have been treated with decency, fairness and respect.
- The 570 men resident in the prison are able participate in a wide range of employment and educational activities. Considerable effort continues to be made to respond to their varied cultural and dietary needs.
- The prevailing regime is one of mutual respect between staff and residents, intolerance of violence and the development of a supportive and caring community.
However, the Board notes the following:
- Nearly eighty prisoners are aged seventy or over. It therefore calls for the setting up of an appropriately staffed ‘care’ unit to accommodate what will become a growing number of elderly and vulnerable residents.
The Chair of IMB The Verne, Chris Miller, said:
“The period of the current report covers only the first of the three lockdowns which the COVID pandemic has necessitated. During that time, the measures imposed by the Governor, his staff and by CareUK personnel meant that the prison was free of infection. The high level of trust established earlier meant that the great majority of prisoners accepted that they would have less time for association and exercise and that family members could not visit. This positive and understanding atmosphere has continued in the current lockdown, even though the prison is no longer COVID free. After an initial delay, the vaccination of prisoners has followed that of the wider community. The Board feels that prison officers, who are daily caring for victims of the virus, should be treated as a priority group in the current phase of vaccination.”