Welcome improvements in regime at HMP/YOI Isis although levels of violence remain a concern

The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP/YOI Isis today publishes its 2018 Annual Report. The Board has seen some welcome improvements during the year with 116 new officers being appointed through local recruitment initiatives, resulting in a significantly improved regime for prisoners with more time out of cell and greater opportunity to attend education, work and other activities.

 

However, violence involving prisoners and the use of force by prison officers remain major issues for the prison. Despite monthly variations in figures for both of these areas, there were 427 incidents of violence recorded by the prison during 2018, an increase from 2017, and there was an increasing use of force used by officers over the year. It is encouraging to note that the last few months of 2018 showed a downward trend in levels of violence, although it remains disturbingly high.

 

Funds from the “10 Prisons Project” initiated by the Prisons’ Minister are being used to improve security and reduce the ability for drugs to enter the prison. The funds have also been providing some welcome decency improvements for prisoners. Early indications during the last quarter of 2018 are that drug usage is slowly falling as the supply is restricted.

 

A continuing concern for the Board with respect to fair treatment is that many prisoners transferring into Isis have property lost and frequently never recovered because of the inefficiencies highlighted in previous reports about the Prison Service’s approach to handling property. Despite annual assurances that this is being addressed, the situation gets worse each year. This is entirely unacceptable and often the cause of increased tensions within the prison. The Board has urged the Minister to personally require the Prison Service to take action in this area.

 

The Board has again urged the Minister to give serious and urgent consideration to the plight of those prisoners with mental health problems detained in prison inappropriately when they should be being treated intensively by mental health professionals in a completely different setting.

 

The Board is encouraged by the positive attitude of the Governor and her Senior Management Team in addressing the issues faced by the prison. It also commends the actions of the dedicated prison officers who are confronted by violent prisoners on a regular basis.

Notes for Editors

HMP/YOI Isis – which takes its title from the ancient name for the River Thames – opened in July 2010. It is a public sector training prison for sentenced men, with a mix of young prisoners between the ages of 18 and 21, and Category C adult prisoners. It is situated in Thamesmead in South-East London. The maximum population it can safely and decently hold is 628.