Category Archives: Independent Monitoring Board

HMP Isis IMB Report: A 10% Staff Reduction Sees Staff Assaults Up Over 20% & Prisoner Assaults Up Over 40%

“Many aspects of the “temporary” restricted regime introduced in September 2013 are still in place four and a half years later, despite repeated assurances from respective Ministers that the staffing situation is being addressed.”

The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP/YOI Isis today publishes its 2017 Annual Report. The Board’s main message – as it was in 2015 and 2016 – is that the prison is failing to fulfil its primary role to train and rehabilitate prisoners. The Board is concerned that the ‘temporary’ prison regime, still in place after four and half years, does not facilitate improvement and prepare the men for release.

Ministers have given repeated assurances in recent years that 2,500 extra staff were being recruited across the country’s prisons to deal with the staffing crisis. But in 2017 HMP/YOI Isis the staffing crisis worsened with a further 10% drop in prison officer numbers.

Concerns raised in the 2017 Annual Report are:

  • High levels of violence – incidents of assaults on prisoners up by over 40% and assaults on staff up by 20% from 2016 figures.   The nature of the violence is more targeted with drugs, debts and gang-related bullying frequently behind assaults.
  • Drug usage remains high with Spice appearing to be the “drug of choice” and an increasing use of cannabis. In late 2017 there were between 30 and 50 instances each month of drug use with many prisoners requiring medical attention and drug debts increasing.
  • Time out of cell – prisoners are locked in their cells for too many hours, with no evening association and periods of between 25 hours and 28 hours locked in cells on weekends, contributing to poor attendance at education and training. Attendance is typically 100 of the 600 prisoners.

The Board has again urged the minister:

  • That staff numbers be returned to the agreed levels, not simply by hiring new officers but also by implementing strategies to retain and motivate existing staff, and
  • To give serious and urgent consideration to the plight of those prisoners with mental health illnesses detained in HMP/YOI Isis inappropriately when they should be being treated intensively by mental health professionals in a different setting.

The Board is encouraged by the many initiatives introduced by the Governor, including recently taking responsibility for the local recruitment of prison officers. It is to be hoped that a full training regime will be implemented during 2018.

The full report will be published at

Information for Editors 

HMP/YOI Isis – named after the River Thames – opened in July 2010. It is a public sector training prison for sentenced men, with a mix of young prisoners between the ages of 18 and 21, and Category C adult prisoners. It is situated in Thamesmead in South-East London. The maximum population it can safely and decently hold is 628.

Every prison in the country has an Independent Monitoring Board. Members are appointed from a wide variety of backgrounds by the Secretary of State for Justice to act independently as the eyes and ears of Ministers and the general public. They have unlimited access to the prison; they routinely check the buildings, the administration, the regime and the treatment of prisoners; and they hear prisoner complaints. They are unpaid. Each Board reports annually to the Secretary of State.

Winchester Prison: “Teetering on The Edge of Major Incident” Warns Watchdog

The situation at a prison is “fragile” with a prevailing sense that it is “teetering on the edge of a major incident”, a report has warned. It said a lack of staff at HMP Winchester has resulted in a “steady deterioration” of the environment and a “noticeable rise in tension”. There has been an increase in self-harm,… Continue Reading

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons welcomes new ‘Urgent Notification’ agreement with potential to strengthen the impact of inspections in failing jails

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, has welcomed a new process allowing him to publicly demand urgent action by the Secretary of State for Justice to improve jails with significant problems – a move also welcomed by one of the Inspectorate’s fiercest critics, Mark Leech. Commenting after the Secretary of State for Justice David… Continue Reading

Shocking Official Proof of IMB Cowardice and Acquiescence

By Mark Leech, Editor: The Prisons Handbook / Cell Companion / Converse Read the shocking official proof that the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) must now be completely disbanded and reorganised  The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Magharberry have agreed to give the Governor 24 hours advance notice of Night Visits to the prison – despite… Continue Reading

IMB Reform: National Council to be Scrapped and Replaced by a Chair and Management Board

The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has approved plans to overhaul the national governance structure for Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs). In July 2014 the Ministry of Justice received an independent report it had commissioned by Karen Page Associates (KPA) (read the report) which looked at the current national IMB system of monitoring in… Continue Reading

Knock down Pentonville and start again say IMB

ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE INDEPENDENT MONITORING BOARD:  HMP PENTONVILLE Knock down Pentonville and start again, or urgently upgrade the decrepit, 174 year-old building if the new threats plaguing prisons up and down the land – ‘Spice’ and drones – are to be tackled. That’s the stark message being delivered to the new Justice Secretary, Liz Truss,… Continue Reading

The shocking bullying of an IMB Member who simply told the truth

  30/4/2016 update It was a powerfully honest article that many members of Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) wanted to write (and which many have since applauded) but it has resulted in the shocking revelation of how bullying at one IMB is the price some can pay for their honesty. Faith Spear is the highly regarded… Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE! Full Sutton Prisoner in Critical Condition After Throat Slashed

A prisoner at Full Sutton maximum security prison near York is in a critical condition after another prisoner slashed his throat with a knife. Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said: “Converse sources at the jail told the newspaper that the whole prison had gone into lock… Continue Reading

Exclusive! Downview Prison “Awash With Illegal Drugs”

Prison watchdogs have slammed the management of Downview Prison in Surrey claiming that senseless cutbacks have resulted in the prison being awash with drugs. In its annual report ending December 2012 to the Secretary of State for Justice, a copy of which has been seen by Converse, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said: “Our primary… Continue Reading