Author Archives: prisonsorguk

Older Prisoners: 4 Years & 5 Justice Secretary’s After Justice Committee Produced A Report on Older Prisoners – Still No Progress

elderlyHM Prison and Probation Service needs a national strategy to address the needs of the increasing numbers of elderly prisoners living – and dying – in jail so that they can be managed and cared for more appropriately, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Nigel Newcomen. Today he published a report on older prisoners.

One of the most marked changes in prisons in recent years has been the increase in the number of older prisoners. This shift has been driven largely by increased sentence length and more late-in-life prosecutions for historic sex offences. The number of prisoners over 60 has tripled in 15 years and the projections are all upwards, with 14,000 prisoners over 50 predicted by June 2020.

The Care Act of 2014 clarified that local authorities are responsible for assessing the care needs of older prisoners and providing support. This legislation, along with national and international expectations that prisoners should be able to access a level of care equal to that in the community, are positive developments. However, faced with such a rapid increase in older prisoners and without a properly resourced and coordinated strategy for this group, an already stretched prison system is struggling to meet need.

Today’s report reviews PPO investigations into naturally caused deaths of prisoners over 50. It examines 314 investigations between 2013 and 2015 and offers 13 lessons on six areas where recommendations are frequently made following investigations into deaths in custody of older prisoners. The six areas are healthcare and diagnosis, restraints, end of life care, family involvement, early release and dementia and complex needs. Among those lessons are:

  • prisons should ensure that newly arrived prisoners have an appropriate health screen that reviews their medical history and conditions and identifies any outstanding appointments and relevant conditions;
  • use of restraints should be proportionate to the actual risk posed by the prisoner, given his or her current health condition;
  • prisons should ensure that terminally ill prisoners who require intensive palliative care are treated in a suitable environment;
  • prisons should ensure that, with the consent of the prisoner and agreement of the family, trained family liaison officers involve families in end-of-life care and promptly notify them when the prisoner is taken to hospital;
  • risk assessments associated with applications for compassionate release should be based on an assessment of actual risk given the prisoner’s current health condition; and
  • prisons should ensure that patients with complex health needs have personalised care plans in place.

 

Nigel Newcomen said:

“The challenge to HM Prison and Probation Service is clear: prisons designed for fit, young men must adjust to the largely unplanned roles of care home and even hospice. Increasingly, prison staff are having to manage not just ageing prisoners and their age-related conditions, but also the end of prisoners’ lives and death itself – usually with limited resources and inadequate training.

“There has been little strategic grip of this sharp demographic change. Prisons and their healthcare partners have been left to respond in a piecemeal fashion. The inevitable result, illustrated in my review, is variable end of life care for prisoners and a continued inability of many prisons to adjust their security arrangements appropriately to the needs of the seriously ill. I still find too many cases of prisons shackling the terminally ill – even to the point of death.

“I have personally seen examples of impressively humane care for the dying by individual staff, as well as glimpses of improved social care and the development of some excellent palliative care. However, I remain astonished that there is still no properly resourced older prisoner strategy. This is something I have called for repeatedly and without which I fear my office will simply continue to expose unacceptable examples of poor care.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook said: “In 2012 I raised with the Justice Committee the growing problem of older prisoners, they took up my suggestion and in September 2013 published their Report on Older Prisoners (http://www.prisons.org.uk/JC-092013-olderprisoners.pdf)

“Four years and five Justice Secretary’s later, as this report makes clear, little or nothing has been done and the problem is now acute – I have invited the Justice Committee to revisit this vital area of our prison system which is simply being forgotten.”

A copy of the report can be found on our website from 20 June 2017. Visit www.ppo.gov.uk.

HMP Lincoln – poor response to deaths in custody investigations, high levels of violence and self harm

HMP Lincoln was struggling to hold prisoners safely and in decent conditions, but staff were working to address these challenges, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the local jail. HMP Lincoln is a Victorian prison holding over 600 remand and sentenced adult and young… Continue Reading

Brixton Prison ‘Is Not Safe’ – the second report of unsafe London prisons in two days

HMP Brixton was not safe, and the work, training and education it provided for prisoners needed to improve, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the local London jail – it is the second report of unsafe London prisons in two days HMP Brixton is… Continue Reading

HMP Pentonville – Some Progress But Levels of Violence Too High

HMP Pentonville had made some progress but was still not safe enough, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the local London jail. HMP Pentonville, an overcrowded Victorian prison serving courts in North London, holds over 1,200 adult and young adult men. The population is… Continue Reading

HMP Garth: Increase in violence at ‘unsafe’ jail, report says

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons published a report on HMP Garth in which he said…. HMP Garth near Leyland in Lancashire is a category B training prison holding over 800 adult male prisoners. Built nearly 30 years ago, Garth is a relatively modern institution but holds some very challenging and serious offenders. Nearly every prisoner… Continue Reading

Morton Hall IRC – Well Run But Some Concerns & Challenges

Morton Hall immigration removal centre was working well to prepare detainees for removal or release, but safety had declined, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the immigration removal centre (IRC) near Lincoln. Morton Hall had previously been a women’s prison until May 2011 when… Continue Reading

HMP Featherstone: Serious Decline

Standards have declined at HMP Featherstone, and the decline in safety was particularly concerning, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison near Wolverhampton. HMP Featherstone holds around 650 men and was last inspected in 2013. At that time, inspectors reported generally positively… Continue Reading

Community Sentences are not being delivered properly says HMI Probation

Rehabilitation activity requirements (RARs), a central feature of many community sentences, are not being delivered properly, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. These flexible provisions in community sentences enable probation providers to do whatever they think will work best with individuals to reduce their reoffending, but all too often, too little is… Continue Reading

Prison Ombudsman upholds complaints from young offenders about excessive use of force by staff

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman upheld seven complaints about the use of force in youth jails in five-and-a-half years and recommended disciplinary action in two cases. . Between April 2011 and October last year, the PPO received 43 complaints from those aged under 21 about staff behaviour, including 21 about the use of force. A bulletin… Continue Reading

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