Overcrowding at HMP Swansea presents significant challenges

Concerns with overcrowding extend to the standard of basic facilities, some toilets lacking privacy and showers not fit for purpose. IMB Swansea reports challenges exacerbated by implementation of smoke-free environment initiative.

The report recognises the challenges faced by the Governor and staff and acknowledges the efforts and initiatives which have been introduced in an attempt to address them.

The IMB once again highlights the continued level of overcrowding in the prison. HMP Swansea was built in 1861 to accommodate 219 prisoners and the residential block is structurally unchanged, although modernisation and upgrading has taken place. However, due to the ever increasing prison population, the current operational capacity of Swansea is 515 making it one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country.

The IMB again expressed concern about prisoners` access to some health professionals with prisoners experiencing lengthy waiting periods for dental and eye care.

The Board recognises the excellent links that continue to be provided with the Homeless Nurse, the Mental Health and Vulnerable Persons Outreach Nurse and local GPs.

HMP Swansea became a smoke free establishment from March 2016, in accordance with Government policy and in so doing became one of the first prisons in the country to do so. As predicted the implementation of the policy has been a considerable challenge. During the period covered by the Report the illicit smoking of manufactured “cigarettes” was a major problem for the health of both staff and prisoners.

A considerable number of prisoners arrive at the Prison with substance misuse issues and the Report highlights and commends the work undertaken by the Safer Custody Team. However, despite every effort made by the Security Team to tackle the drug issue, this remains a significant problem in the prison. Added to this is the ever increasing use of New

Psychoactive Substances [NSP] such as spice within the prison and the unpredictable behaviour which results from their use.

The Report recognises the excellent service provided by the Education, Learning and Skills Department. The Department is an integral and valuable part of the prison regime and has introduced a number of innovative and stimulating initiatives during the year.

The Report highlights the continuous efforts being made by the prison to ensure that prisoners have access to gainful and purposeful activity.

The IMB commends the work being undertaken by the Resettlement Team in relation to the resettlement of prisoners and that of PACT in the provision of family casework support to prisoners and their families. Unfortunately, the lack of accommodation for prisoners post release is a major problem for the Teams and the Welsh Government’s Housing (Wales) Act appears to have had an exceptionally adverse effect on the support provided for prisoners post release.

The report also highlights the work of the Catering Department and their willingness to develop ideas and suggestions despite limited budgets. The team was again awarded a five star hygiene rating by the City & County of Swansea.

Read the report in full here.