Inhumane treatment, breach of basic human rights and massive increase in prisoner-on-staff violence at HMP Whitemoor

Liz Truss with Will Styles, governor, during her visit to HMP Whitemoor in March in 2017. She was th

Liz Truss with Will Styles, governor, during her visit to HMP Whitemoor in March in 2017. She was there to meet with prison officers and hear about the problems of recruiting more staff. She spoke about a new £100,000 million investment in the prison service aimed at helping recruit more staff and making prisons safer. - Credit: Archant

Inhumane treatment of segregated prisoners, a breach of basic human rights and a 200 per cent increase in prisoner-on-staff violence are just three of the failings at HMP Whitemoor, according to a new report.

The Independent Monitoring Board found that segregated prisoners are “not always treated humanely or fairly and that the prison “routinely fails” to provide clean clothing, bedding and cleaning materials.

The board, made up of members of the local community, said the conditions broke the UN’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and that “little has changed” despite them consistently highlighting segregation problems in their annual reports and putting questions direct to ministers.

The most recent report, based on information from June 1 2017 to May 31 2018, adds that such a lack of attention to basics has led to “frustration and serious indiscipline in other prisons”.

It continues to state that incidents of violence at the prison have more than doubled, and availability and use of illegal drugs (in particular, ‘Spice’) pose a significant hazard, and attendance by mental health professionals is inconsistent.

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It also found that the education unit was closed for nearly half of scheduled hours according - 75 per cent of the time because of officer shortages.

The report however says HMP Whitemoor is “generally well managed” with a “calmer and safer” environment than other prisons.

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It also indicates that there are low rates of violence compared with the national average for male prisons (187 per 1,000 prisoners compared to 366 nationally).

Among the improvements made are an increased focus on encouraging prisoners’ links with their families, success in recruiting new staff, and prisoners being involved in the re-decoration of the wings and corridors.

It however adds that “more could be done to address the needs of the 23 per cent of residents who are foreign nationals” and “further effort” is needed to “promote mutual respect and understanding between the range of religious, ethnic and national groups”.

The data in the report came from observations made on visits, scrutiny of records, informal contact with prison staff, prisoners and their families, prisoner applications, attendance at prison meetings and studies by IMB members.

The report was carried out under The Prison Act 1952, which requires every prison to be monitored by an independent board appointed by the Secretary of State.

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