A diabetic prisoner who died after being restrained and left on a cell floor in isolation for 21 hours was subjected to “truly shocking” treatment, a report has found.
Staff at the privately-run HMP Peterborough believed Annabella Landsberg was “play-acting” and that they spent “far too long” before carrying out proper examinations despite her being critically ill, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said.
An inquest jury on Thursday also found there were “failings” by the Sodexo-operated prison in Cambridgeshire, as well as by custody officers, healthcare staff and doctors.
The mother-of-three, who was 45 and lived in Worthing, West Sussex, was restrained by prison staff on September 2 2017 and left without examination by healthcare staff for 21 hours.
When she was finally examined the following day, she was found to be “extremely ill” and sent to hospital where she died on September 6, the report found.
“The events leading up to Ms Landsberg’s death are truly shocking,” it said.
“Both discipline and nursing staff assumed initially that Ms Landsberg was play-acting and it took them far too long to seek managerial intervention and to carry out appropriate clinical examinations.”
The inquest in Huntingdon heard that duty nurse Lesley Watts said Ms Landsberg was “wasting staff’s time” and was “clearly faking medical issues”.
She was suffering from multiple organ failure when she was taken to hospital as a result of her diabetes.
After the hearing, sister Sandra Landsberg said: “It was very distressing to learn that my sister was left on her cell floor for so long when she was so unwell, repeatedly considered to be ‘faking it’.
“My sister will not come back, but no other family should have to go through this. Prisoners should be properly supported and looked after.”
Deborah Coles, the director of the Inquest charity, which represented the Landsbergs, said she “suffered dehumanising, ill treatment”.
“Annabella was a black woman with multiple vulnerabilities,” she said.
“That she came to die a preventable death in such appalling circumstances is shameful.
“Distress of black women in prison is too often disbelieved and viewed as a discipline and control problem.”
Damian Evans, director at HMP Peterborough, said: “It is clear that the care Annabella Landsberg received whilst she was at HMP Peterborough fell short of the standard we expect and we are very sorry for this.
“Our thoughts continue to be with Annabella’s family and friends.
“Since Annabella’s death we have undertaken a thorough review of the delivery of healthcare services at HMP Peterborough and accepted all the recommendations from the initial Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s report into her death.
“This has led to many changes and improvements being made.
“We will consider the jury’s extensive findings and conclusions with great care and continue to make improvements.”
Three prison officers who subjected vulnerable teenagers to daily abuse at a detention centre in 1970s and 1980s have been jailed after a judge said their behaviour breached the public’s trust.
Durham Police carried out a huge investigation involving 1,800 witnesses into what happened at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, from its opening in the 1960s to its closure in 1988.
Christopher Onslow, 73, was convicted of misconduct in a public office as well as individual acts of violence against youths and was jailed for eight-and-a-half years at Teesside Crown Court.
He smacked one inmate around the head with muddy football boots which the teenager had not cleaned properly, leaving lasting scars, and caused another to fall from a cargo net and break his back by throwing rocks at the terrified, overweight boy when he got stuck.
John McGee, 75, was jailed for two years and 10 months following his conviction for misconduct in a public office and assault.
Standing more than 6ft tall, he punched a new, 5ft inmate in the face, who then soiled himself in fear, and McGee forced him to bunny-hop down a corridor to clean himself up.
Kevin Blakely, 67, was convicted after a trial of two counts of misconduct in a public office and was jailed for two years and nine months.
Judge Howard Crowson said pushing, shoving and even giving inmates a clip round the ear would not have constituted misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s.
But he said young offenders were regularly punched and stamped on as part of a regime of fear at Medomsley.
Two other officers, who were also convicted following a series of three trials, will be sentenced later this month.
The judge praised the victims’ bravery and the police for taking on the massive case, decades after the violent officers would have thought they had got away with their abuse.
He said: “For many years trainees from Medomlsey Detention Centre shared a common sense of grievance.
“Many had experienced brutality and violence at the hands of prison officers, but nobody wanted to hear about it.
“Those who had the courage to complain when they were released were either ignored or warned that to pursue the complaint would risk a return to Medomsley – nobody wanted to risk that.”
Judge Crowson said the country felt it easier to believe such institutions were places of appropriate discipline “where unruly boys were taught to behave properly”.
He said: “In those days any complaint was likely to be regarded as further evidence that the trainee was anti-social, that he had not learned his lesson and was complaining about appropriate treatment.”
He said the defendants, now elderly men, had been protected for 40 years by that false view, and by a culture of silence from colleagues, even those who were not violent themselves.
The wardens’ violence caused injury but its main aim was to “crush the will of trainees, to terrify them and make them feel powerless”.
He said it was only through the commitment and persistence of the victims and the dedication of the police that enough evidence was gathered to paint the true picture of what happened there.
Toby Hedworth QC, defending Onslow, said either the leadership at Medomlsey was lacking, causing lower ranked officers to believe what they were doing was right, or the leaders were now going unpunished and it was only the “foot-soldiers” who were facing the consequences.
He said: “That regime is now being examined in the light of wholly different values and attitudes from those which pertained in the 1970s and early 1980s.”
He said Onslow was the principal carer for his wife, and he had a much longer period of service working in prisons after Medomsley without any issue.
Caroline Goodwin QC, representing McGee, said he had many years of public service, adding: “He is a proud man and stands tall at every opportunity.”
Simon Kealey QC, for Blakely, said he had worked with recovering drug and drink addicts for years after finishing in the prison service where he had an unblemished career.
Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Green, of Durham Police, said the men had “abused their position to cause immeasurable suffering and lifelong damage to their victims”.
He added that more alleged victims of offences at Medomsley had come forward after the former officers’ convictions.
Of the victims whose allegations have already resulted in prosecutions, he said: “It has taken a huge amount of courage for these men to tell police what happened to them and we have worked hard to ensure they are listened to and supported throughout the investigation and subsequent court process.”
Drug use in prisons is now “widespread”, an official report has warned.
It said the scale of the problem is “significant” and has become more challenging in recent years, exacerbated by the emergence of psychoactive substances.
The strategy paper, jointly prepared by the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “The misuse of drugs in prison is one of the biggest challenges facing our criminal justice system today.
“Drug misuse is prevalent and contributes to violence, crime and vulnerability within prisons, which threatens safety and the ability of our hard-working prison staff to deliver effective regimes.”
The document shows that, between 2012/13 and 2017/18, the rate of positive random tests for “traditional” drugs in jails increased by 50%, from 7% to 10.6%.
Statistics published last year also showed that the number of incidents where drugs were found in prisons in England and Wales rose by 23% to 13,119 in 2017/18.
The paper said: “Drug use in prisons is now widespread, particularly in male local and category C prisons.
“The emergence of psychoactive substances such as synthetic cannabinoids has exacerbated the problem, and these are often used in conjunction with other drugs, while we remain aware of problems with the diversion and misuse of prescription medication.”
Prisons are being provided with x-ray scanners, extra detection dogs and mobile phone blocking technology as part of efforts to stop drugs getting in.
Staff have also been issued with detailed guidance on handling incoming mail following attempts to post drug-laced paper into jails. The ministry said its strategy centres around three objectives, restricting supply, reducing demand and building recovery.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “The threat drugs pose to the safety of prisons has never been greater and it requires a wide-ranging response.
“The Prison Drugs Strategy sets a clear direction for all those involved in reducing the impact of drugs in our jails.
“The potential benefits of this are huge, not only in the form of improved safety for officers and prisoners, but also in reduced re-offending and greater public safety.”
Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said:
“I welcome this, it’s a really important strategy that, subject to resources, potentially brings clarity and common sense to a complex vexed issue.”
Ministers should consider abolishingsentences of under a year to help ease the “enduring” safety crisis behind bars, according to a Commons report.
Justice Secretary David Gauke is already looking at the possibility of scrapping jail terms of six months or less, with exceptions made for violent and sexual offences.
The move is backed in a new report from the Justice Select Committee.
It said: “The scale of the prison population crisis is such that it requires a fresh and decisive response.”
The committee suggested the approach could go further, urging the Government to “model” the effects of abolishing sentences of less than 12 months in England and Wales.
Plans are already in place to introduce a “presumption” against custodial terms of under a year in Scotland.
Mr Gauke signalled a departure from the Tory “prison works” mantra as he revealed his vision for “smart justice” earlier this year.
Short custodial terms would be replaced by “robust” community orders under the blueprint.
Penal reform campaigners are in favour, but Tory MP Philip Davies labelled the plans “stupid” last month after obtaining figures showing criminals jailed for six months or less have committed more than 50 previous offences on average.
A safety crisis has swept through much of the prisons estate in recent years, with assaults and self-harm at record levels.
The committee warned it was a “grave and worsening” situation, which was unlikely to improve with the current prison population.
It said: “We are now in the depths of an enduring crisis in prison safety and decency that has lasted five years and is taking significant additional investment to rectify, further diverting funds from essential rehabilitative initiatives that could stem or reverse the predicted growth.”
Over the past 25 years, the prison population in England and Wales has almost doubled in size, the report said.
At the end of last week, there were 82,417 inmates in jail.
The nature of the prison population is rapidly changing, with a higher proportion of offenders behind bars for serious violent or sexual crimes and an increase in the average age of inmates, according to the committee.
It called for a focus on services to reduce the £15 billion annual cost of re-offending, and suggested ministers should consider whether judges could be given a role in monitoring those they sentence to community punishments.
The assessment also raised concerns that support given to 10 jails chosen for a £10 million safety drive could be at the expense of others in “serious need”.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart has pledged to resign if the scheme fails to achieve a reduction in violence and drugs at the selected establishments.
Conservative MP Bob Neill, who chairs the committee, accused the Ministry of Justice and Treasury of taking a “crisis management approach” to prisons.
He added: “Throwing money at the prison system to tackle multiple issues takes funding away from external rehabilitative programmes that could stem or reverse many of the problems.”
Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the report provides a “unanimous endorsement of the Government’s wish to abolish pointless short prison sentences”.
Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse said: “Our prisons are in crisis. They are so overcrowded that they are failing at their central purpose: to prevent crime and keep communities safe by rehabilitating offenders.”
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said the report “sets out the scale and complexity of the challenges facing the prisons system”.
He added: “Our clear focus is on rehabilitating prisoners to reduce crime and keep the public safe, but this can only happen if prisons are safe and decent.
“That is why we are investing significantly in improving conditions and security, and developing a long-term strategy to deliver prison places and reduce violence.”
Welcoming the committee’s support for “our ongoing work considering options for sentencing reform”, Mr Stewart said: “While prison will always be the only place for serious and violent offenders, there is persuasive evidence showing community sentences are often more effective in reducing re-offending than short spells behind bars.”
Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said:
“I am absolutely with this in principle, but my problem is that it’s predicated on having an effective probation service in place to monitor the replacement community sentences – and the fact is, as HMI Probation made clear just two days ago, that we just don’t have that.”
Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, told the Constitution Committee that statutory changes, including some “exceptions to the general rule”, may bring widespread revisions of Sentencing Council guidelines.
He also pointed out there may be cases where properly monitored non-custodial sentences can be effective.
He said: “It is perhaps a little bit simplistic to suppose that all offenders are affected in the same way,” adding: “A curfew for an 18, 19, 20-year-old is quite a punishment, possibly, and the technology now enables that to be monitored properly.”
Lord Burnett added: “I hope that when there is a debate about sentencing – and it no doubt will extend a good deal beyond the question of whether there should be fewer or very few sentences of custody at less than six months, or a year, or whatever figure people identify – I hope that it will be informed by a really deep understanding of the impact of sentences on offenders and offending, and also that it will be informed by a proper look at what is going on around the world.”
Birmingham prison is being brought back in-house permanently after it plunged into crisis under private management.
HM Prison and Probation Service took over the jail from G4S in August.
The unprecedented move was announced at the same time as Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke published a scathing assessment of the prison, which is one of the largest in the country.
The initial “step-in” was for at least six months, before being extended to the summer.
On Monday, the Government announced that HMPPS has decided, with the full agreement of G4S, to end the contract seven years early.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “I am confident that HMP Birmingham has made good progress since the ‘step-in’ but to build on this, the prison needs stability and continuity.
“That is why we have mutually agreed with G4S that the public sector is better placed to drive the long-term improvements required and the contract will end.
“Our priority remains the safety of prisoners and staff but this move to restore and consolidate order at one of our most challenging jails will ultimately make sure that we are better protecting the public.”
He stressed the Government still believes in a “mixed economy” of providers, saying some private jails are among the best performing.
“Indeed, G4S itself is running excellent prisons at Altcourse and Oakwood, and this Government believes passionately that private providers should continue to play a crucial role in our system,” Mr Stewart said.
Mr Clarke triggered the “urgent notification” scheme to demand immediate action at HMP Birmingham following an inspection visit last summer.
The chief inspector’s report, which detailed findings prior to the Government’s intervention, revealed that inmates walked around “like zombies” while high on drugs in scenes likened to a war zone.
Prisoners flouted rules without challenge from staff, many of whom were “anxious and fearful” as they went about their duties, the assessment found.
G4S was awarded a 15-year-contract to run the jail in 2011.
The firm will pay £9.9 million to cover additional costs associated with the step-in and essential maintenance works.
G4S custodial & detention services managing director Jerry Petherick said: “HMP Birmingham is an inner-city remand prison which faces exceptional challenges including high levels of prisoner violence towards staff and fellow prisoners.
“We believe that it is in the best interests of staff and the company that management of this prison is transferred to HMPPS and we will work closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure a smooth transition over the next three months.
“We will continue to deliver high quality services at the other four major UK prisons that we manage and I would like to pay tribute to all of our employees who provide an outstanding service at these prisons, often in a demanding operating environment.”
Mark Fairhurst, national chairman of the Prison Officers Association, said the announcement means HMP Birmingham will be returned to “where it rightfully belongs”.
Mr Leech said: “I believe that the reasoning behind this decision is that the Ministry of Justice take the view that, rightly or wrongly, G4S cannot be trusted to take back management of the prison without the real risk that it will again descend into chaos and a lack of control.
“In those circumstances its a sensible and pragmatic decision but G4S have recently been named as one of the operators involved in the selection process for operation of the soon to be opened Wellingborough and Glen Parva prisons – this decision must mean their application is subject to exceptional scrutiny.”
“This is a truly shocking report of a prison in complete chaos and in danger of flipping into self-destruct – the lack of Urgent Notification from the Prisons Inspectorate is frankly bewildering.” Mark Leech
UPDATE: Mark Leech: Following publication of this post today, and my comments at the bottom of it, I received a juvenile email from the Chief Communications Officer at The Prisons Inspectorate – you can read it, and my reply, here
HMP Onley, a training prison in Warwickshire with 80% of its population from London, is “fundamentally unsafe” with high levels of drugs and violence.
When the Prisons Inspectorate last inspected HMP Onley in 2016 they made 70 recommendations overall. The prison fully accepted 53 of the recommendations and partially (or subject to resources) accepted 16. It rejected one of the recommendations.
At this follow-up inspection in November 2018 – two years later – the Prison Inspectorate found that the prison had achieved24 of those recommendations, and not achieved 46 recommendations.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the prison had been assessed as ‘poor’ for safety – the lowest assessment – at the previous inspection in 2016.
When inspectors visited in November 2018, Mr Clarke added, it was “particularly disappointing” to find Onley was still fundamentally unsafe. “Time and again we find that prisons which are unsafe will struggle to make progress in other areas, and HMP Onley was no exception.”
The lack of safety was “all too obvious”. The report noted that the reception wing was chaotic and “new arrivals, still carrying their property and stood in the busy corridor, were approached and faced predation by more experienced prisoners.”
Mr Clarke added: “Perhaps it is not surprising that in our survey only 62% of prisoners said they felt safe on the first night. Sadly, their feelings were an all too accurate reflection of what life in Onley would be like during their time there.”
The prevalence of illicit drugs played a major role in causing destabilising factors such as violence, debt, bullying and health emergencies. During the previous three months there had been 200 emergency health calls related to the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS). “Despite this, we found that far too little was being done to obstruct the flow of drugs into the jail.”
Violence was higher than at similar category C prisons and although prisoner-on-prisoner assaults had decreased since 2016, assaults on staff had more than doubled. Far too many prisoners were self-isolating – refusing to come out of their cells or to go to education, work and training. The prison believed much of the violence was gang-related.
Mr Clarke said: “HMP Onley was a clear example of where the failure to deal with drugs and violence undermined many other aspects of prison life. There was a vicious circle where fear, frustration and boredom increased the demand for drugs, which in turn fuelled the violence.
“In order for Onley to break out of this circle, there must obviously be more effective action taken to reduce violence and the availability of drugs. But at the same time, more can be done in other areas.”
Rubbish was consistently thrown from cells windows and, the report noted, “there were problems with rats, and recent attempts to control the infestation had left some dying in wall cavities and vents, leaving an intolerable smell in some cells.” Accommodation on Onley’s newer wings was better than on its “shabby, cramped” older wings.
Onley was a training prison without enough activity places for the population, and during the inspection only 50% of prisoners were engaged in purposeful activity at any one time. Some 39% of prisoners were locked in their cells during the working day – far too high a proportion for a training prison. Extensive PE facilities were underused by the prison population, which was predominantly young, with around 60% from a black and minority ethnic background.
Inspectors noted that the prison had run a restricted daily regime for more than four years because of chronic staff shortages, though this was gradually being addressed.
Mr Clarke said: “There can also be little doubt that doing more to support family relationships would help prisoners rehabilitate and prepare for their eventual release.” The report noted that Onley was in a remote location but there was no transport for families from local stations.
Overall, Mr Clarke said:
“I would not wish to detract from the many good things being delivered by dedicated and skilful staff. Health care, education, training, industry and offender management leading to release were all areas where there was some very good provision. Sadly, Onley will fail to fulfil its role as a training and resettlement prison until it can deal with the inextricably linked blights of drugs and violence.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said:
“Tackling drugs and violence at Onley is our top priority and, while challenging, significant efforts have been made to drive improvement. These have included a major recruitment drive, with 30% more officers soon to be in place compared to 2018, along with additional security measures such as mail scanners, while a new drug recovery unit is due to open this spring. As the Chief Inspector makes clear, despite the difficulties there is good work going on at Onley to help prisoners turn their lives around and reduce the risk of reoffending on release.”
Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said the report showed “a prison in complete chaos”.
Mr Leech writes:
This is a truly shocking report of a prison in complete chaos and in danger of flipping into self-destruct – the lack of Urgent Notification from the Prisons Inspectorate at Onley is frankly bewildering.
Onley is a fundamentally unsafe prison, previous recommendations on safety, decency, and respect have been ignored wholescale.
Drugs and violence have taken control, and Onley ticks all the Urgent Notification boxes – yet the Prisons Inspectorate has failed yet again to activate a procedure designed for exactly these kind of situations.
I have heard it suggested elsewhere that political pressure was placed on the Prisons Inspectorate to ‘give it a rest’ and not to activate the Urgent Notification procedure ‘for a while’, after four in a row were bowled stump high at the Justice Secretary last year – true or not, if Onley doesn’t meet the test for the Urgent Notification procedure, then I’d like someone to tell me exactly what does.
A convicted killer went on to murder a 65-year-old property developer in South Yorkshire after being released from prison on licence at medium risk, an inquest has heard.
John Gogarty was murdered at his home address in Marsh Street, Wombwell, Barnsley, by Ian Birley in 2015.
A coroner heard on Tuesday how Birley was on licence at the time, having murdered a pensioner in 1995.
Birley, alongside his then-girlfriend Helen Nichols, stabbed Mr Gogarty 69 times.
Witnesses explained how the pair had broken into Mr Gogarty’s home and demanded his PIN before stealing his wallet and carrying out the brutal attack.
They then proceeded to withdraw £500 from his bank account – which was to be used to service a drug debt Birley had incurred – before then taking a bottle Bollinger champagne from the victim’s property and burning their clothes in a wooded area, the inquest heard.
Mr Gogarty’s body was found four days later, on July 17 2015, by his son.
The inquest was told how Birley had previously killed a man named Maurice Hoyle in 1995 and was on licence for that offence when he committed the second murder.
He was given a whole-life jail sentence at Sheffield Crown Court in 2015, while Nichols was given a minimum 20-year term, having both been convicted of Mr Gogarty’s murder.
Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard on Tuesday how the victim’s family had won the right to a full inquest so certain elements of the events leading up to Birley’s release from jail in 2013 could be considered.
Giving evidence, the victim’s daughter, Nicola Gogarty, told the inquest: “The death has obviously devastated the whole family.
“It’s been a huge trauma and of course it’s been very heard to move on from it.
“In my heart I do believe that my dad would still be here had things been done.”
Miss Gogarty told the court how she had been informed Birley had been deemed to be a “medium risk” when he was released from jail in December 2013.
Detective Sergeant Karen Whitehouse, of South Yorkshire Police, explained how the force was unaware of the killer’s release conditions and licence conditions as a probation report issued upon his release was not logged on their systems.
But it was shown a report from the National Probation Service had been sent to the force on December 13 2013, detailing Birley’s address, his supervision officer and his licence conditions – including one stating he should abstain from drinking alcohol.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley, of South Yorkshire Police, led the investigation into the death of Mr Gogarty, who was originally from County Louth in Ireland, and said Birley had shown signs of being “chaotic” in the lead-up to the killing.
Speaking about the second killing, he said: “From a previous interaction with Mr Gogarty, Mr Birley was under the impression that he was a man of some means.
“At a point in time a while after this interaction, Mr Birley, under fear of a diminishing ability to gain the income to service his debt, used the information he had previously obtained to determine that that was the best opportunity available to him.”
The inquest, which is expected to last five days, continues.
Three killers had their murder convictions quashed after a female police officer tried to hide the fact a jury member in their trial was her son’s girlfriend.
Detective Constable Rebecca Bryant lied about her relationship to juror Laura Jones, and sent texts telling her “don’t tell anyone who you are” during the murder trial in 2016.
The officer’s relationship to Miss Jones, a teaching assistant, was eventually discovered just weeks after Dwayne Edgar, Jake Whelan, and Robert Lainsbury, were sentenced to life in prison for knifing 29-year-old Lynford Brewster to death in Cardiff.
The three men then managed to get their convictions quashed in the Court of Appeal after a High Court judge ordered a retrial, accusing Det Con Bryant and Miss Jones of wasting court time and public money.
Lord Justice Treacy told the appeal hearing in July last year: “It is crystal clear that this juror should never have sat on this trial and that the assertion of objective bias is fully made out.
“In the circumstances, this trial was fatally flawed and the safety of the convictions is totally undermined.
“The folly of the juror and the police officer have wasted vast amounts of time and cost the public a great deal of money.
“Moreover, the agony for the victim’s family is inevitably prolonged.
“We very much regret that fact.
“However, there has not been a fair and proper trial because of the conduct of the officer and the juror and in those circumstances it is our duty to act.”
Text exchanges between the two women before the original trial at Cardiff Crown Court showed Det Con Bryant was aware Miss Jones could be involved as a juror, and also that both women knew Miss Jones worked at the school of victim Mr Brewster’s young nephew.
One text the police officer sent to Miss Jones read: “Remember what I sed (sic) though, as long as you don’t know any of the witnesses that’s fine.
“Don’t tell any of them who u r to me tho in case they think I’ve told u about it although u know I haven’t xxx”.
Det Con Bryant, who was working as a family liaison officer with Mr Brewster’s family during the court proceedings, initially lied about her relationship with Miss Jones after she was questioned by police, but later admitted the juror was in a long-term relationship with her son.
The officer is still employed by South Wales Police and is due to face disciplinary proceedings.
Assistant Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said: “When issues regarding the original trial came to light, the matter was voluntarily referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and has been investigated by the South Wales Police Professional Standards Department.
“Our investigation, which has also been subject of independent review, has not found any evidence that the officer intended to undermine the criminal justice process, and following a formal submission to the Crown Prosecution Service the matter will now be dealt with through South Wales Police disciplinary processes.
“Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Brewster who we have continued to support throughout this difficult time.”
Edgar, Whelan and Lainsbury were all convicted of murder on Monday following their retrial at Bristol Crown Court, and will be sentenced on March 26.
HMP//YOI Stoke Heath, a training and resettlement prison holding up to 782 male prisoners in rural Shropshire, was found by inspectors to be “overwhelmingly safe.”
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the 2015 inspection of the jail had found reasonably good outcomes – the second highest assessment – against all four HMI Prisons tests of a healthy prison.
“At this inspection (in November 2018) we were pleased to find a very similar picture, despite some deterioration in the provision of purposeful activity.”
The prison remained “overwhelmingly safe”. Violence, unlike at many other prisons, had not increased since 2015, with an encouraging decrease since the summer of 2018 following a spike earlier in the year.
“Work to address violence and incentivise prisoners was reasonably good and, overall, we found a prison that was ordered and under control,” Mr Clarke added. However, use of force by staff had increased, and was high, and more needed to be done to ensure “comprehensive governance and accountability” of its use.
Inspectors found strong work to tackle drugs. The report noted that the management “made effective use of electronic security aids, including equipment to identify illicit items such as mobile phones, drugs and weapons.”
“At the time of inspection, prisoners were receiving photocopies of their domestic mail rather than the original letters sent in. Managers explained that this was in response to credible intelligence that some mail coming into the prison had been impregnated with a new psychoactive substance (NPS).” The prison planned to stop the restriction when it had scanner to detect the drugs without photocopying. Guidance for the local community to spot potential drugs-related suspicious activity was commended as good practice.
Inspectors were concerned about the prison’s response to self-harm, which had risen sharply. While prisoners in crisis said they felt well cared for, they were often left locked up for extended periods. Prisoners generally, though, expressed “real confidence” in the staff, who they saw as being in control and work to introduce a key worker scheme and an ‘active citizenship’ initiative were well advanced. Many cells, however, were very small and cramped.
A major weakness of the prison was the number of prisoners – about a third – who were inactive and locked up during the working day and there was insufficient activity for the whole population. However, achievement rates for those who attended education, vocational training or work were generally good. Rehabilitation and release planning remained reasonably good overall, thought assessments and risk management plans could improve.
Overall, Mr Clarke said:
“Stoke Heath has benefited from stable and competent leadership that has attended to trying to get the basics right. This is not to argue that there aren’t further improvements that can be made – there are many. But Stoke Heath was dealing with the same risks and challenges that other less successful training prisons face and yet it remained a largely well-ordered place where the prisoners, for the most part, trusted the staff. Good work was being done to confront the scourge of drugs and violence. The challenge going forward is to maintain these successes and build on them in a way that also integrates improvements to the prison’s regime and resettlement offer.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said:
“Stoke Heath provides a safe and respectful regime which gives positive opportunities for prisoners to turn their lives around. As the Chief Inspector makes clear, Stoke Heath is a good prison and, whilst there is more to do to improve purposeful activity, the Governor and staff deserve credit for their achievements in a challenging operational environment”.
A copy of the full report, published on 19 March 2019, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons