Inspectors give their verdict on conditions for sex offenders at HMP Bure in Norfolk
10:43 18 October 2012
The annual report into Norfolk’s prison for sex offenders has again highlighted “inappropriate” care and facilities for elderly and disabled prisoners.
For the third consecutive year, the issue has been flagged up in the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report about HMP Bure, which opened in 2009 at the former RAF Coltishall.
It also highlights “totally unacceptable” handling of prisoners with indefinite sentences. A “serious lack of opportunity to complete programmes” means they are held “far beyond a release date that they would otherwise have achieved”.
The IMB report clears the prison managers of any blame, and urges the government to suspend the sentencing exercise to allow a “more robust structure” to be put in place across the country.
The prison houses up to 523 category C male sex offenders, largely from the eastern region.
Regarding elderly and disabled offenders, the IMB report says: “If elderly offenders are to remain in the secure environment of a prison then their needs, by way of suitable accommodation and fully trained staff, are a requirement that successive governments cannot continue to ignore. In the main prison officers are neither trained nor qualified to act as carers of the elderly.”
The report says the previously flagged up issue of waiting times to see the dentist has been “partly addressed”, with times now “at an acceptable level”.
It also highlights “serious problems” with the kitchen floor, which is subsiding, and needs to be replaced - leaving bosses seeking a field kitchen to fill the gap while work is carried out.
Work has now begun on a new 100-person wing, residential wing seven. The report says: “Workshop space for the current population is very limited. The construction will put considerable further strain on that resource, together with taking land that is currently used for horticulture.
“The board is extremely concerned that the plans to provide adequate new workshop space alongside the building of the new wing must be implemented should the wing go ahead.”
Brian Blake, IMB chairman at HMP Bure, said: “We believe that this report fully covers the life of the prison throughout the year and we must emphasise the achievement of all of the staff in continuing to ensure that decency and respect for all has continued.
“We are still concerned that there is still a lack of adequate facilities for the elderly and disabled offenders as highlighted in last two years’ reports.”