Concerns over victims of bullying raised in Norwich prison report
PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 January 2014
A report into standards at Norwich prison has found improvements in some areas, but raised some concerns, particularly about the treatment of prisoners who were victims of bullying and a lack of staff.
The assessment, conducted by Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, found some prisoners were too frightened to leave their cells, while others who were the victims of bullying said they felt unsupported.
Further problems were encountered on A wing, which acted as a first night and induction centre and a centre for those receiving treatment for drug and alcohol misuse.
The inspector found staffing levels on A wing were inadequate to manage the mixed population safely, while prisoner mentors were being used to conduct sensitive first night interviews with new arrivals, which was described in the report as “dangerous and open to abuse.”
This lack of staff meant basic issues for prisoners, such as the sorting of mail, were not being dealt with, while many prisoners assessed as having poor literacy and numeracy were unwilling to address this.
However, Mr Hardwick noted improvements in a number of areas, including vulnerable prisoners being moved away from the “threatening environment” on A wing to the “better and calmer” environment on C wing.
The number of violent incidents and the use of force had fallen, while the segregation unit offered a better environment.
The care and management of older prisoners and young adults was better than inspectors normally see, the report said, while prisoners were getting more time out of cell and there were more activity places available.
Other improvements were recognised in the quality of learning and skills.
The Ministry of Justice said since December staff had been redeployed to return the prison to full staffing levels, while a new safer custody manager and their team were working hard to improve safety, care and decency. A particular focus was being given to the identification and support of prisoners at risk of harming themselves. Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said: “Norwich is a complex prison and I am pleased that this report acknowledges the progress it has made, which is to the credit of the governor and his staff.
“As the chief inspector points out there is more to do- and the governor has taken action to address these issues, particularly on A Wing.”