The Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Wakefield has just published its Report on the last year to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice.
HMP Wakefield is one of only eight High Security Prisons in the country. It manages around 750 prisoners, including many of the highest risk categories. A large proportion of these are serious sex offenders. It has a challenging task, reflecting the nature of the prisoners’ offences, many of which are denied by the offenders, as well as the aged Victorian fabric of much the Prison, and inevitably limited resources.
The Independent Monitoring Board, made up of volunteers from the local community, is very pleased to be able to recognise a number of distinct achievements and improvements in this Prison. Necessary work has been undertaken to repair the ageing fabric in the Prison’s Segregation Unit and many of the workshops, involving imaginative solutions to allow the repairs and renovation to be carried out whilst achieving an ongoing commitment to public protection – and now ensuring that most of the workshops are fully functional and able to provide adequate opportunities for meaningful work for the prisoners. The Board is clear that the staff have clearly worked extremely hard to maintain operations.
The Board has continued to monitor standards of service, training and skills and staff morale. It considers that recent service revisions have been undertaken very successfully, a tribute to the commitment of the staff and prison management – but also a reflection of a more cohesive and settled community within the prison population. The Chair of the Monitoring Board, David Smethurst, says “some very important pioneering work is being undertaken to achieve a rehabilitative community in this Prison. The Board is particularly impressed by the initiatives being developed to involve prisoners in different ways, to help guide their fellow prisoners to reconsider their lives and to move forward”. The Board has urged that resources continue to be directed to sustain this work.