HMP Hewell – Improvements But Serious Safety Concerns On Closed Site Say Inspectors

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Safety needed to improve on the closed site of HMP Hewell but some notable progress had been made and the open site was generally good, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the category B local prison and category D open prison in Worcestershire.

HMP Hewell is a complex establishment. Much of the prison is a relatively modern local facility holding over 1000 adult male prisoners and serving courts in the West Midlands. Linked to the main prison, about half a mile away, is an old country house which operates as an open prison holding 200 prisoners. The differences in the purpose and role of both sites led inspectors to assess each facility separately. On the open site, inspectors found a successful prison that, while needing some renovation, was safe and respectful with reasonably good work, training and education opportunities and did reasonably good work to resettle prisoners back into the community. On the closed site, Hewell continued to face many challenges and there were some areas of serious concern, including safety.

At the closed site, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • prisoners are particularly vulnerable on arrival, yet first night procedures were chaotic, staff were overwhelmed and prisoners felt unsafe;
  • the level of violence was far too high and although the prison had begun good work to help reduce it, much was not yet embedded;
  • levels of self-harm had increased, four prisoners had taken their own lives since the last inspection in 2014 and the prison had not yet sufficiently implemented recommendations from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman following investigations into these deaths;
  • conditions in the segregation unit were very poor, many cells around the prison were overcrowded and the inpatient facility in health care was very poor; and
  • the availability of drugs remained very high.

 

However, on the closed site, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • staff-prisoner relationships were reasonably good, and mitigated against some of the difficulties, though staff needed to be more robust in challenging poor behaviour;
  • although too many prisoners were locked in cell during the working day, most had access to some learning and work opportunities and there were enough to occupy all for at least part of the day;
  • learning and skills management was good and teaching much improved;
  • a restorative justice unit had developed where restorative and community principles were very constructively applied; and
  • services to help prisoners resettle back into the community on release were reasonably good, with some impressive joint working with the community rehabilitation company (CRC) and some very effective work on finding accommodation for prisoners and changing their offending behaviour.

 

On the open site, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there were no safety concerns;
  • cleanliness had improved but the site was still in need of refurbishment and some toilets were in poor condition;
  • as on the closed site, teaching and learning for education and vocational training courses was good;
  • useful partnerships had been developed with training companies, helping prisoners to secure employment;
  • as on the closed site, the management of resettlement had improved and some aspects of offender management were very good;
  • a quarter of those on the open site worked out of the prison each day, after thorough risk assessments; and
  • some good work was being carried out with prisoners to reduce the risk of them reoffending.

 

Peter Clarke said:
“At the time of the inspection, the deputy governor was in temporary charge and the prison was awaiting the arrival of a new governor. But this uncertainty had not led to lack of leadership; the management team was focused, innovative and committed to tackling the prison’s problems. We found improvements in many areas and examples of good practice. Nevertheless, very big challenges – operationally, managerially and in terms of resources – were still to be addressed and outcomes for too many prisoners on the closed site were very poor.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 10 January 2017 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

Prison assault on ex-soldier was ‘terrorist attack’

2paraThe Times has reported that a former paratrooper on remand in prison has been severely beaten by a gang in a “terrorist attack”, it was alleged yesterday.

Eight men assaulted Craig Jones in his cell at Hewell prison, West Midlands. One of the gang members is alleged to be a Muslim serving ten years for causing the death of a soldier by dangerous driving in 2014.

Jones, formerly of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, had only recently arrived at the jail and was targeted because of his military service, a source said. “I was told he had a fractured eye socket, they sliced up his face and beat him to within an inch of his life. It was a major incident,” the source added.

Jones was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated. He is expected to be returned to prison shortly.

A Prison Service spokesman confirmed that an incident had taken place and said that a police and prison investigation had been started.

“A prisoner at HMP Hewell was taken to hospital following an incident on Saturday, January 9,” the spokesman said. “The circumstances are being investigated by both the police and the prison, and we will take action against anyone found to have been involved.”

The Muslim inmate was jailed in October. He had already been banned from driving when he sped through a red light at almost 70mph and ploughed into the back of a car being driven by the soldier, killing him instantly.

He ignored the carnage at the scene and ran off, but four witnesses wrestled him to the ground. The victim had served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and received full military honours at his funeral.

Nick Hardwick, the outgoing chief inspector of prisons, expressed concern last month about the threat posed by Muslim gangs in jails, including fears that they may be radicalising vulnerable inmates.

He said prison officers should not be deterred from tracking gang-related activity if the members of the gangs were Muslims.

One prison governor said that the growing influence of Muslim gangs was a major issue for the jail system. The governor said that many prisoners were so fearful of Muslims that they formed alliances with them for protection.

Others, however, say that some inmates were attracted to joining Muslim gangs because they were seen as the latest powerful group in Britain’s jails.

Prison sources said that the attack on Jones was not being investigated as a racist incident, but was thought to be linked to a dispute over tobacco.

Hewell prison holds 1,266 remand and sentenced prisoners. A prison inspection report in 2014 found significant levels of violence, including some serious attacks. The previous year there was an attempted murder. The report said prisoner-on-prisoner assaults were high and that they were often linked to debt, which arose because of delays in new inmates receiving orders of tobacco from the jail’s shop.

Police Plea To Missing Child Killer

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Detectives will spend a fourth day hunting for a convicted child killer who absconded from prison in Worcestershire.

West Mercia Police are concerned about the state of mind of Alan Giles, who was jailed for life in 1997, and have made a direct appeal for him to hand himself in.

Giles left HMP Hewell in Redditch on foot at about 11am on Monday.

Chief Inspector Paul Judge urged the public to report any sightings of the 56-year-old immediately.

Mr Judge told a press conference in Redditch that inquiries to locate Giles were centred on the local area, including parts of south Warwickshire.

The officer said: “We are concerned as Giles has been missing since Monday morning and we are urging the public to help us find him.

“We are concerned about his state of mind as a result of information we have received after he went missing and I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to him to hand himself in directly to the nearest police station or contact us by phone so that we can resolve this matter.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in order to find Giles and we will provide whatever resources are required in order to achieve that.

“I would also urge anyone who is helping him or sheltering him to contact us without delay.”

Giles, originally from the Oldbury area of the West Midlands, was given a 19-year tariff for the 1995 kidnap and murder of teenager Kevin Ricketts.

The 16-year-old victim’s body was not found until 1998, after Giles asked to speak to detectives from West Midlands Police while serving his sentence.

Giles, who would have been eligible to apply for parole next year, is believed to have absconded from an “open” section of the prison.

Staff at the jail checked on Giles at 6am on Monday, when he was in his cell, but found he was missing at 11am.

No one else is thought to have been involved in helping the on-the-run killer, who may have used the public transport network to leave the area.

It is understood measures have been taken to ensure the safety of members of Kevin’s family, who have been informed that Giles is at large.

Mr Judge added: “We can’t underestimate the fact that Giles was convicted of murder and kidnap, however we have no specific information that gives us concern for any members of the public.”

Giles, who has had recent contact with family in the West Midlands, is described as white, 5ft 9ins, and of proportionate build with short grey hair and blue eyes.

He has tattoos of an eagle on his back and a swallow, shark and flower on his left arm.

It is believed Giles is wearing a grey Rockport sweater, blue jeans and white Asics trainers.