Prison report highlights overcrowding
14:11 15 November 2012
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Concerns about overcrowding, prisoners serving time over tariff and future funding for rehabilitation programmes have been raised in a report about a Norfolk jail.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s (IMB) newly-published annual report covering the period June last year to May found there was an increase of inmates at the category C Wayland Prison, near Watton, from 1,017 to 1,031.
This was because of a national increase in prisoners due to last year’s summer riots, an increase in longer sentences, longer waiting periods for parole eligibility, drug offences and an increase in violence.
The report highlighted that 73 single cells are designated to be used by two inmates.
It added: “All the overcrowding of potentially 146 prisoners is confined to the 446 available cells of the four main wings in the oldest part of the prison where over 32pc of prisoners are forced to share a cell in which they are confined for long periods, usually with a total stranger and expected to eat, sleep and carry out their ablutions in these potentially unhealthy conditions.”
The IMB plans to raise concerns to the Home Office about future funding for tackling substance related offending and addicted prisoners.
It will also raise the issue of the number of prisoners – 46pc – who are over their tariff, which they say is “unacceptable”.
Wayland, now 27 years old, has offenders mainly from East Anglia and London with some from the other parts of Britain and abroad.
Expansion started in 1985, with three new wings, and the most recent was in 2008, with five accommodation blocks and units for segregation, a kitchen, activities and education.
“Overcrowding of the prison estate results in prisoners being transferred away from their home area. At Wayland over 55pc of prisoners are from London and the South East making visiting difficult for their families and thereby reducing their contact with home and community,” the report added.
The report said: “This is partially being addressed at Wayland by the conversion of a small 40-bed unit with a more relaxed regime and the option to work in the prison’s outside gardens.”
But it added: “Wayland remains a first-rate prison due to strong management led by the governor and his team.
“We do have grave concerns regarding budget cuts and how they impinge on staff recruitment, and how a safe environment can be maintained.”
The chairman’s summary within the report said “staff morale is not exactly at its peak”.
Criticisms of the drug treatment service in last year’s IMB report have been “turned around”.
The latest report said the process is “safe, meaningful and proactive in detoxifying drug addicted prisoners”.
It added: “Wayland remains a safe place providing a calm and purposeful regime.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Although some of our prisons hold more people than they were originally designed for, they all provide safe and decent levels of accommodation for prisoners. We will continue to work hard to reduce the existence of crowding across the estate.
“HMP Wayland has been making drug and alcohol interventions a priority, with a new service recently introduced. Only by rehabilitating prisoners can we expect them to leave behind a life of crime upon their release.
“The release of offenders on indeterminate sentences is a matter for the Parole Board. The Government has already announced a new regime of tough, determinate sentences which will see more dangerous criminals spending longer in prison.”
They added the IMB report will be considered by ministers.