The annual report from the Independent Monitoring Board at Channings Wood highlights that over the year to August 2018 the prison continued to decline, both in relation to the safety and well-being of the prisoners themselves, and in the physical condition of their surroundings. Among the points raised were:
- The significant increase in the use of the drug Spice which was widely available in the prison.
- The serious deterioration in the state of the men’s living blocks.
- The relative inexperience of many of the new officers, despite an increase in the number of officers being taken on.
- The constant complaints of theft, bullying and violence by other inmates, especially among newly arrived prisoners.
- The lack of opportunities for prisoners to improve their chances of rehabilitation through work outside towards the end of their sentences.
The Board, which is made up of sixteen unpaid volunteers who all live locally, monitors the prison 365 days a year, checking that the prisoners are treated with fairness and decency. It acknowledges that in more recent months considerable attempts have been made to improve conditions at the prison though they are unimpressed that Government funding for prisons seems to be a low priority nationally. However, the Board’s report is highly critical of the long-term attempts to cope with the wide spread psychological problems that prisoners have. They consider Channings Wood is inadequate in coping with prisoners with disabilities. And, in the report, they highlight the lack of support for staff who have to cope with the aftermath of serious self-harm and attempted suicide cases among prisoners, the dangers from prisoners high on drugs, and, tragically, in several cases prisoner’s taking their own lives.
The Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Channings Wood said:
“The year covered in the IMB’s annual report has been extremely tough for many prisoners and staff. Prisons seem to be a low priority when it comes to attracting Government funds. We are very concerned about the widespread violence and bullying that some prisoners carry out on each other, and the poor physical conditions in which half of the prisoners are forced to live. The easy availability of drugs and the difficulty in combatting them is very worrying. Over the next year, we will be closely monitoring the senior management which is in place and bringing pressure to bear to ensure the men are treated in a decent manner.”
Read the report in full here.