Prisoners and staff need urgent decision on Prison’s future.

In its annual report for the period 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020. The Board at HMP Dartmoor finds the following:

  • That the prison is generally a safe place and that lack of capital investment over recent years raises a number of safety issues, but that to its credit the prison manages to work around the issues that arise.
  • That the prison works hard to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and humanely and there is generally a good and supportive relationship between staff and prisoners.
  • Despite not being classified or funded as a resettlement prison, more than 220 prisoners were released into the community over the reporting year.

 

Covid-19

The prison, in common with the community, has since March 2020 had to mitigate Covid-19 risks including introducing initiatives that paralleled those in the community. It has operated in common with other prisons under a national command structure, but the IMB say that the prison generally coped well.

 

  • The prison continued to provide key services including providing Listeners, social care and ‘buddies’ to assist with social care needs.
  • The impact on mental health and frustrations have grown as the year has progressed. The Board raises concerns about whether the current mental health services are adequate for the current situation.
  • Other support was introduced by providing in-cell education packs and as the year has progressed, limited in person visits have been introduced as well as access to library books on the wing.

 

Planned closure of HMP Dartmoor 2023

 

The Board has found that the planned closure of HMP Dartmoor in 2023 is having a negative, significant and increasing impact on the prisoner experience and staff morale.

The Prisons Minister has been asked to provide urgent clarity on the closure so that detailed plans can be made for the future of all stakeholders.

IMB Vice-Chair Nick Carthew said:

“The prison has generally coped well with the Covid-19 pandemic although, like in the community at large, there has been an impact on prisoners that meant earlier this year prisoners being locked in cells for long periods of time leading to a rise in mental and physical health issues.

The Independent Monitoring Board remain very concerned that the uncertainty over the planned closure means that vital capital spending is not taking place.  We urgently need the Prisons Minister to confirm the future of the prison so that plans can be put in place to support both prisoners and staff.”