Stoke Heath annual report commends endeavours to support prisoners’ resettlement needs despite inadequate Government funding for education and vocational training

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP Stoke Heath has today published its annual report for 2019-20.  Overall, the Board considers that HMP/YOI Stoke Heath is a well-run prison that continues to provide a safe and decent environment for prisoners, who are treated fairly and with respect.

The report highlights a number of positive developments including:

  • Improvements in healthcare provision.
  • Good management of violence reduction and initiatives to support prisoners with prolific violent behaviour.
  • A significant decrease in self-harm and the prison’s excellent performance indicator rating in this area.

However, the Board has significant concerns about the following:

  • Inadequate Government funding for education and training which has led to low rates of purposeful activity in the prison and very low levels of employment upon release, severely compromising the prison’s ability to achieve its aims as a training and resettlement establishment.
  • The lack of accommodation for prisoners with severe mental health issues and unacceptably long waiting times for transfer to a secure psychiatric unit.
  • The Prison Service system used to track prisoners’ property, which the Board considers is not fit for purpose.

The Chair of Stoke Heath Independent Monitoring Board, Donna Withington, said:

‘’The Board has witnessed a number of improvements over the year in areas such as healthcare services and violence reduction. On rota visits, IMB members report the prison as a clean, calm and well managed environment where prisoners respect the regime. The segregation unit is clean and tidy, kitchens are well run and food is of a good standard. The prison has a strong multi-faith chaplaincy team which is an integral part of the care provided by Stoke Heath.

COVID-19 has created many challenges for the prison environment as a whole. The IMB commends both staff and prisoners for their tolerance and understanding of the severe restrictions under which they have been living and operating’’.