The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Dartmoor, a Category C prison for up to 640 adult male prisoners, has published its Annual Report for 2015. Despite working under a threat of closure (the government announced in 2014 that it was entering negotiations with the Duchy of Cornwall to terminate the prison’s lease leading to its closure with a date as yet undisclosed) the Board once again commends management and staff for working hard to make progress. A new Governing Governor and Deputy Governor took responsibility during the reporting year and this had resulted in a notable improvement in staff communication and morale.
The report highlights many achievements this year. For example, it commends the clear and continuing emphasis on the decency agenda and on efforts to increase the number of prisoners in work and in education, but it also observed that still too many prisoners remained on wings during the working day. The Board also found that, like many other UK prisons, there was also still an unacceptable amount of illegal drugs and Manufactured Psychotic Substances seemingly readily available to prisoners, particularly spice, which had the potential to promote bullying and violent behaviour.
During the year, the prison moved to an integrated regime and the report highlights the concerns the board had over its implementation and subsequent management. However, this year’s report also celebrates the prison’s significant positive achievements during the year, such as the move at last to total single cell accommodation, the provision of seating for elderly/disabled prisoners at the foot of the stairs leading to the Dispensary, both of which have been issues in previous reports; and the attempts at cell and wing redecoration. It concludes ‘there is much to commend about the prison’.