HMP Eastwood Park: Where almost half the women released are chucked out the prison gate homeless, like a discarded bin bag of rubbish

“While there is much in this report to be pleased about, Eastwood Park is a safe, respectful and purposeful prison – none of that means anything when so much of the accommodation is in a deplorable condition and nearly half of women, some who are at high risk of causing serious harm, are chucked out of the prison gate at the end of their sentence, like a discarded bin bag of rubbish, homeless, on the streets, and with  sleeping bag and shop doorway for shelter – would you want that for your daughter?”
Mark Leech, Editor: The Prisons Handbook

“Almost half of prisoners discharged in recent months had been released either homeless or to very temporary/emergency accommodation, including some high-risk prisoners. Too little support was given to prisoners to either sustain or obtain accommodation.”
Peter Clarke: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

HMP Eastwood Park, a closed women’s prison near Bristol with a catchment area including Wales, was found to have remained a safe, respectful and purposeful prison over the last three years.

However, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the latest inspection in May 2019 raised concerns about “completely inappropriate” conditions in the prison’s three closed blocks – units 1, 2 and 3. Inspectors were also concerned about the number of women released homeless.

At the time of the inspection in May 2019, Eastwood Park held just under 400 women. It was last inspected in November 2016. In 2019, assessments of safety, respect and purposeful activity had remained at reasonably good, though resettlement work had slipped to not sufficiently good.

Mr Clarke said: “Eastwood Park has a huge catchment area, including much of Wales. Consequently, half the women were being held more than 50 miles from home, and over one-third never received any visits. As with all women’s prisons, the population included many with very complex needs, and many who had been victimised in a variety of ways before coming into custody.”

He added: “Overall, we found that Eastwood Park remained a safe, respectful and purposeful prison.” Most prisoners said staff treated them with respect, they were increasingly consulted about their experiences in the prison, and we saw many positive interactions with staff.”

However, the prison needed to “think very carefully” about whether it was necessary for some women to be segregated for extended periods. “The practice of segregating women on residential wings also had a detrimental knock-on effect on the regime of the rest of the prisoners who were not in segregation.”

Mr Clarke said that although, by and large, living conditions in the prison were good, “the accommodation provided on Units 1-3 were completely inappropriate for a women’s prison.”

Inspectors found that women in Units 1 -3 felt less respected. They were often unnecessarily locked up during the working day while segregated prisoners were allowed ‘domestic time’ and exercise.

The report noted: “In our survey, 47% of prisoners on residential units 1, 2 and 3 said that it was easy to get drugs at the prison, and one in five that they had developed a drug problem while at the establishment. There was also evidence of prisoners taking medication that had not been prescribed to them; in our survey, 32% of respondents on residential units 1, 2 and 3 said that they had developed a problem with taking medication which had not been prescribed to them since being at the prison.”

Mr Clarke said: “On entering these units, I was immediately struck by the sight of rows of women’s faces pressed against the open observation hatches of their locked doors, peering out into the narrow, dark, cell block corridor. It was as if they were waiting for something or indeed anything to happen, however mundane, to relieve the monotony of their existence.

“Unless something radical can be done to improve the conditions on these units, then serious consideration should be given to closing them. At present they are simply not fit for purpose.”

The assessment of resettlement had declined and the complexity of the population clearly had an impact on the provision of effective offender management and resettlement services: 73% of prisoners said they had mental health problems, and around half had problems with illicit drug use.

In the months leading up to the inspection, a “worryingly high” 42% women had been released homeless and were left either to live on the streets or to go to temporary emergency accommodation.

Mr Clarke said: “I spoke to several prisoners who had previously experienced this and had either re-offended or felt it was inevitable that they would do so if released again in similar circumstances. In many ways this is an issue that is beyond the control of the prison, but more support does need to be given before release.”

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales writes:

While there is much in this report to be pleased about, Eastwood Park is a safe, respectful and purposeful prison – none of that means anything when so much of the accommodation is in a deplorable condition and nearly half of women, some who are at high risk of causing serious harm, are chucked out of the prison gate at the end of their sentence, like a discarded bin bag of rubbish, homeless, on the streets, and left to fend for themselves.

The whole point of having a joined up prison and probation service, with end-to-end offender management, is that transition from prison to probation supervision needs to be seamless – the reality however is that vulnerable females, many a high propensity to reoffend and who are accepted to be at high risk of causing serious harm are discarded, dumped at the gate with nowhere to live, just a shop doorway and sleeping bag for shelter.

Would you wants that for your daughter?

Read the Report

HMP & YOI ASKHAM GRANGE – Continues to be one of the best performing prisons in the country

HMP/YOI Askham Grange delivers a national service to women residents and young offenders and up to ten mothers. It is an open prison.

HMP & YOI Askham Grange, a women’s open prison near York, has been awarded the highest grading of ‘good’ in all four HM Inspectorate of Prisons healthy prison tests for the second inspection running.

Peter Clarke said it was particularly pleasing in April 2019 to see that the leadership and staff had not simply relied upon what inspectors found last time (in 2014), nor just continued along the same path.

“On the contrary, there had been new initiatives and innovations in many areas. The ethos of rehabilitation and resettlement that dominated the establishment seemed to be stronger than ever, and the extraordinarily strong nature of the relationships between staff and prisoners was clear to see. There can be no doubt whatsoever that this played a huge part in achieving the goals of building women’s confidence and self-esteem en route to eventual release.”

Very few prisoners said they had felt unsafe, there was hardly any violence, and levels of self-harm were very low. “This was a welcome finding when the levels of self-harm elsewhere in the women’s estate are so troubling. Those prisoners who did need support received it appropriately.” Drugs and alcohol were not easily available.

The prison was clean, the living conditions were good and the grounds were extensive. Acorn House, a stand-alone building in the prison grounds, enabled prisoners to look after their children for overnight stays. The onsite mother and baby unit, complete with well-equipped nursery, was an excellent facility. Mr Clarke added: “It was clear that both mothers and babies thrived in the environment.”

Prisoners were never locked in their rooms and had free access to most of the site throughout the day. There was a wide range of recreational and social activities and Ofsted inspectors judged the provision of learning and skills to be outstanding.

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In terms of helping prisoners to progress, the links to voluntary organisations and employers were a key strength. Inspectors raised one significant public protection concern, relating to weaknesses in assessments of whether prisoners posed a continuing risk to children.

Overall, however, Mr Clarke said, “it would be wrong to detract from the overall excellence of the prison.” He sounded two notes of caution for the future:

“In the weeks following the inspection, the acting governor and deputy governor were both due to leave, and as we have seen elsewhere, maintaining consistency in leadership energy and ethos can be vital to maintaining good performance. The second issue is potentially more worrying, and it is that Askham Grange has been under threat of closure for some six years. This uncertainty needs to be resolved as soon as possible. This is one of the best performing prisons in the country. The prisoners clearly benefit enormously from what it can provide. It would be good to think that in the future Askham Grange might remain as an example of what can be achieved, and not fade away into a memory of what was once an exceptional establishment.”

Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Director General of Prisons, said:

“This is an outstanding report and I am delighted that prison staff continued to build on the success of the last inspection. HMP Askham Grange is an example of an excellent open prison focused on the needs of the women in their custody. I am particularly pleased that inspectors noted prisoners have access to an impressive range of job opportunities and over half of the women released on temporary licence are doing so to go into paid employment, setting them up for life once they have been released.”

Read the Report

Bronzefield Prison: Increasingly challenging population but an overwhelmingly safe prison

HMP Bronzefield in Surrey, the largest women’s prison in Europe, was found to have outcomes for the prisoners which were reasonably good or better across HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ healthy prison tests.

 With a capacity of up to 557 prisoners, and opened in 2004, the Sodexo-operated jail holds women ranging from those on remand to those considered as requiring high security restrictions.

 Mr Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “This was our first inspection of Bronzefield since 2015 and, as we did then, we found the prison to be an excellent institution.” Bronzefield was an “overwhelmingly safe prison.”

 However, the population had “become more challenging in recent years, with many experiencing significant mental health problems.” Nearly 70% of prisoners in the inspection survey reported having a mental health problem.

“Recorded violence had increased markedly since our last inspection (in 2015) but most incidents were not serious. Arrangements to reduce violence and support victims required some improvements, although weaknesses were mitigated by some very strong informal support offered to prisoners.”

An investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), following the self-inflicted death of a woman in 2016, had raised significant criticisms, but recommendations made by the PPO had been addressed. Self-harm among prisoners remained high, but overall the care for those in crisis was good.

Bronzefield had a clean and decent environment and its key strength was the quality of staff-prisoner relationships. “Most prisoners felt respected or had someone they could turn to for help. The interactions we observed were impressive. The promotion of equality was appropriately prioritised” Mr Clarke said.

Most prisoners had a good amount of time out of cell and there were sufficient activity places for all. Education, skills and work provision had improved considerably, while achievement among learners had also improved. Ofsted inspectors judged provision to be ‘good’ with some outstanding features.

Work to support rehabilitation and release planning would have benefited from a more comprehensive needs analysis but, despite this, the quality of offender management and the effectiveness of resettlement planning were good and public protection work robust. The high standard of family support was commended as good practice.

Mr Clarke said:

“Bronzefield seemed to us to be meeting nearly all its key objectives. There was work to do – a priority being the reduction of violence – but the overall success of the prison was built on healthy and supportive relationships and the knowledge and understanding the Bronzefield staff had of their prisoners, many of whom had high and complex support needs. In addition to the prison being a safe place, prisoners were treated with care and respect and were helped to progress through their sentence ultimately to the point of release. We leave the prison with a small number of recommendations we hope will assist in further progression and congratulate the managers and staff on what they have been able to achieve.”

Phil Copple, Director General of Prisons, said:

“It is clear that staff at Bronzefield are doing great work to help give women, who often have complex needs, all the tools they need to turn their lives around.

“That work includes supporting them through substance abuse and mental health issues, and ensuring they can get education and training that will help them on release.

“In common with other women’s prisons incidents of self-harm and violence remain a concern, but I am pleased to see the governor and his team put in strong mechanisms to reduce this.”

Read the Report

HMP SEND – Excellent women’s prison but it must address the deterioration in education, work and training.

HMP Send, a closed training prison for women, including many high-risk offenders, was found by inspectors to have kept up high standards of safety, respectful treatment and rehabilitation and release planning.

The Surrey jail had, however, undergone a disappointing deterioration in its provision of ‘purposeful activity’ – education, work and training.

Overall, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, described Send as an “excellent” prison dealing with a “highly complex population” of up to 282 often high-risk offenders.

Three-quarters of those held at the time of the inspection in June 2018 were serving over four years and 67 were serving indeterminate sentences, including life. A substantial number, although not all, lived on one of three therapeutic or specialist facilities which “sought to address the needs of women as part of a structured personality disorder pathway.”

In 2014, inspectors assessed Send as ‘good’ in all four healthy prison tests, the highest assessment. Only purposeful activity dropped, to ‘not sufficiently good’, in 2018.

Send remained was a very safe prison, with very little violence. Though the HMIP survey raised some concerns about issues of bullying and victimisation, inspectors found the prison’s response to such behaviour had improved. Recorded self-harm had almost doubled but it remained much lower than comparable prisons. Force was rarely used and the prison, commendably, was able to operate without the need for a segregation unit.

Living conditions were clean and decent and most women reported very positively about many aspects of daily living. Relationships between staff and women were excellent and, Mr Clarke said, “were at the heart of the prison’s success.” Work to promote equality had improved and was generally very good, although more could have been done to support some groups, notably younger women and foreign nationals.

The management of resettlement was strong and offender management was at the heart of a prisoner’s experience.

Inspectors’ principal concern, Mr Clarke said, related to purposeful activity. Most women had more than 10 hours out of their cells and inspectors found very few locked up during the working day. “That said, the management of learning and skills was not robust and quality improvement lacked challenge. The range of education on offer was good but opportunities in work and vocational training were more limited.” Allocations to activity needed improvement and employer engagement was insufficient. Attendance and retention in education and vocational training were mixed and in some vocation and work settings women were insufficiently productive.

Overall, though, Mr Clarke said:

“HMP Send was an excellent prison run by a very effective governor and caring staff.  The women at the prison were treated with decency and care, being kept safe and treated with respect. The prison provided services for some very difficult and potentially dangerous women, yet did so with confidence and competence. There was work to do to improve education, vocational training and work, so we have left the prison with a few recommendations which we hope will assist in this process.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, said:

“As the Chief Inspector says, Send does excellent work with a complex and challenging population. The Governor and her team are committed to maximising opportunities for the women in their care and will use the recommendations in this report, along with the measures outlined in the government’s Education and Employment Strategy, to improve the quality of training available to support women into employment on release.”

Read the Report

Plans For Five New Community Prisons For Women Axed in Revised Female Offenders Plan

Plans for five new community prisons for women have been scrapped, instead Justice Secretary David Gauke has pledged instead to set up at least five residential centres for women in a pilot scheme.

The move is part of plans to try to reduce the number of female offenders serving short jail terms, replacing them with community sentences instead that will allow women to spend more time with their children who otherwise would end up in care.

In the foreword to the strategy, Mr Gauke said 70.7% of women and 62.9% of men released from custody between April and June 2016 after a sentence of less than a year went on to re-offend within 12 months.

He said: “There is persuasive evidence that short custodial sentences are less effective in reducing re-offending than community orders. Short sentences generate churn which is a major driver of instability in our prisons and they do not provide sufficient time for rehabilitative activity.

“The impact on women, many of whom are sentenced for non-violent, low-level but persistent offences, often for short periods of time, is particularly significant.

“The prevalence of anxiety and self-harm incidents is greater than for male prisoners.

“As more female offenders are primary carers than their male counterparts, these sentences lead to a disproportionate impact on children and families and a failure to halt the intergenerational cycle of offending.”

It is estimated that female offenders cost £1.7 billion in 2015/16, of which around £1 billion were incurred by the police.

The strategy proposes greater use of community punishments for women rather than short jail terms, and a review will be carried out looking at how they can spend more time with their children.

But critics have said the £5m earmarked for the scheme, and the lack of any firm timetable for its delivery, is ‘simply not good enough’.

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales welcomed the news saying it has the potential to benefit many women offenders, ‘but the money earmarked for this is simply not enough’ he said.

Mr Leech said: “The majority of women offenders come to prison with a long and complex history of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, so on the surface this is good news.

“Research shows they are more than twice as likely to have a mental health issue than men, and almost half committed their offence to support the drug use of someone else .

“Women are often the prime carers for their children who, when the mother goes to prison, are often taken into care where potentially life-long offending cycles can start for them too.

“Wherever possible women need to be given community penalties – but let’s be honest, the £5m earmarked for these five centres is chicken-feed in the scheme of things – what’s happened to the £50m earmarked for the five new prisons, and why isn’t that being invested in this initiative?

Mr Leech said his caution was not in relation to the theory, ‘governments have shed-loads of theories’, but on his past experience that these things rarely come to fruition as initially announced.

Mr Leech said: “The glaringly obvious lack of resources and absence of any coherent timetable for delivery, is deeply worrying.

“Let’s see the delivery plan, with ring-fenced funding and a strict delivery timetable, and then we can welcome progress that is real rather than another expression of good intent that so often comes to nothing.”

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “The strategy is welcome recognition of the futility of short prison sentences for women whose offending is often driven by abusive relationships or unmet mental health needs.

“The strategy recognises that many women are victims of more serious crimes than those they are accused of, and contains many positive promises of change. But it has not provided the resource to deliver that change, and no timetable to drive it.

“If the Government turns its good intentions into action, many thousands of women and families, including victims, will benefit. That work must start immediately.”

The Government has pledged to spend £5 million over two years on “community provision” for women.

Number of female prisoners released into homelessness soars

homeless_womanThe number of women released from prison into homelessness has more than doubled over the past year, new figures have revealed.

Information obtained by Labour showed that 227 female offenders were recorded as being homeless by the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) in the second quarter of 2017, compared with 103 a year earlier.

In total, almost a third of offenders released under CRC supervision had “unknown or unsettled accommodation outcomes”, according to written parliamentary answers to Labour.

The proportion of offenders released into homelessness is up by 12% over the past year, Labour said.

Shadow justice minister Imran Hussain said: “The Tories are presiding over a failing justice system that is putting public safety and confidence at risk.

“It is shocking that so many ex-offenders are being released without a roof over their head, despite homelessness being a major factor in reoffending. How can these people hope to turn their lives around when they don’t even have anywhere to live?

“This is yet another damning indictment of the failure of the Community Rehabilitation Companies to meet even the most basic of needs of offenders. The Tories need to take urgent action to ensure that these probation companies that they privatised are fit for purpose.”

 

A Ministry of Justice spokesman: “The Justice Secretary has been clear that we are committed to improving work across government to help prisoners and ex-offenders find a home, as well as a job, help with debt, or treatment for a drug addiction.

“As part of this, we are working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to develop a pilot project enabling offenders to find – and stay in – private rented accommodation following release from prison, building on existing government support for those at risk of homelessness.

“We will also shortly be bringing forward a strategy for female offenders aimed at improving outcomes for women in the community and custody, to add to the support already in place.”

HMP/YOI DRAKE HALL – A Safe, Decent and Purposeful Women’s Prison

drakehallHMP/YOI Drake Hall was a safe and respectful prison, with good work, training and education provision on offer and a focus on rehabilitation, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in Staffordshire.
HMP/YOI Drake Hall was previously inspected in 2013 when inspectors found it was producing reasonable or good outcomes for the women held. This remains the case. This more recent inspection found a safe prison despite some changes in the population. Some women had moved to Drake Hall after HMP Holloway closed and found the relative freedom to move around the site difficult to adjust to. A small number of mainly younger women with more challenging behaviour were causing some difficulties. Staff managed these challenges well and dealt with most conflicts through lower-level interventions. Drake Hall was a respectful prison with good staff-prisoner relationships at its core.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • challenges with drug use and illicit alcohol were well managed and security arrangements were appropriate;
  • force was rarely needed and segregation only used as a last resort;
  • levels of self-harm were lower than in many other women’s prisons and good care was provided to those needing support;
  • staff were clear about their roles, challenging women when needed, supporting them when required and motivating them to engage with the activities and resettlement work of the prison;
  • the prison had recently received the Enabling Environment award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a quality mark to show they promote good relationships and wellbeing;
  • the provision of work, training and education had improved and was now good overall and nearly all women were occupied purposefully and most achieved good outcomes;
  • the focus on resettlement was a strength across the prison, with staff supporting women’s efforts to develop skills for living crime-free lives, and good offender management arrangements; and
  • the new open unit was excellent and provided opportunities for women to further demonstrate a reduction in risk and enhance their employability skills.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • while the new health care provider was adequate overall, there were some notable failings, such as delays in accessing services and the management of medications, which were deficient;
  • some aspects of the work with foreign nationals needed improvement;
  • two older accommodation units, build in 1940, needed to be replaced; and
  • there needed to be more support offered to women who had been abused, victimised or trafficked before coming into prison.

Peter Clarke said:
“This was a very positive inspection of a safe, decent and purposeful prison that was doing well at what it had set out to do, namely to support women in taking steps to become more independent, reduce their risks to others and resettle back into the community. The governor and his staff should be commended for this.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 22 November 2016 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP & Yoi Foston Hall: woman’s prison with some strengths but improvements needed

IMG_0065Foston Hall was a reasonably safe and decent prison with some good rehabilitative work, but further improvements need to be made, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in Derbyshire.

HMP & YOI Foston Hall is a local and resettlement prison. Like most other women’s local prisons, it holds a complicated mix of women, from those recently remanded in custody to those with lengthy sentences. Levels of need in the population were very high. Nearly half of new arrivals said they had problems feeling depressed or suicidal or had mental health problems. Many reported problems with drugs or alcohol. Over half the women had children under the age of 18 and for a similar number it was their first time in prison. When it was last inspected in 2014, inspectors assessed outcomes in safety, respect and resettlement as reasonably good but considered that work, training and education was insufficiently good. This more recent inspection was mixed – there were some obvious strengths but a few areas of significant weakness.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

· the prison was basically safe and security arrangements were appropriate;

· concerns regarding illegal drugs were being addressed;

· good care was provided to the many women at risk of self-harming and a sensible approach was adopted to managing those with complex needs;

· relationships between women and staff were strong and founded on mutual respect;

· the living accommodation was mixed, but clean and decent;

· health care was starting to deliver reasonably good support in some areas; and

· there was some good work to support higher risk women through the release process, although release on temporary licence (ROTL) was not used to support this work.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

· some aspects of early days support needed to be improved, particularly as this was when women were at their most vulnerable;

· there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2014, although the prison had taken robust action to address most of the concerns resulting from these deaths;

· there were delays in prescribed medications and limited administration slots at weekends and on bank holidays, meaning some medicines were not given to women at the right time;

· a third of women were locked up during the day and there were still insufficient activity places for all the women to be purposefully occupied; and

· although the community rehabilitation company was delivering pockets of good work, it was not yet fully integrated into the prison or delivering consistently good outcomes.
Peter Clarke said:
“Foston Hall remained a reasonably safe and respectful prison, and we found some excellent work being done to manage and support progression for the highly complex mix of women. Managers and staff were focused on improving the weaker aspects of the prison’s work, and we asked them to focus particularly on early days’ support, the management of medicines and developing the purposefulness of the regime. The prison’s senior team was going through a period of instability but we hoped this would be resolved speedily to ensure continuity in building on the obvious strengths of the institution, and addressing some of the significant challenges ahead.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector found Foston Hall to be a reasonably safe and respectful prison. This reflects the hard work of staff to support women with complex needs, offering them opportunities to progress and turn their lives around.

“The majority of women at Foston Hall have a good regime with access to education and vocational training, but there is more to do. Since the inspection more work places have been created and the Governor is determined to use the recommendations in this report to further improve the prison.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 21 October 2016 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP & YOI BRONZEFIELD – A VERY GOOD AND IMPROVED WOMEN’S PRISON

HMP Bronzefield Women's Prison
HMP Bronzefield Women’s Prison

HMP Bronzefield was a well-led prison with committed staff and had continued to improve, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in West London.

HMP Bronzefield is a women’s local prison run by Sodexo Justice Services. It holds up to 527 women including those remanded by the courts, those serving short sentences and a number serving life. Ages of prisoners range from 18 to over 70. It is one of two prisons that holds restricted status women, deemed to require special management due to the level of risk they present or the notoriety of their offences. The catchment area of the prison is huge and the mix of women held continues to present a blend of complexity and vulnerability. Over 40% of prisoners indicated they had a problem with drugs and 66% said they had emotional wellbeing or mental health problems. The proportion of women reporting these types of problems was significantly higher than at the last inspection in 2013. It was encouraging to see that the prison had continued the improvement inspectors reported on after the 2013 inspection.

 

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • arrangements to support women on arrival and during their early days at the prison were good and for those with substance misuse problems, some of the best inspectors have seen;
  • processes to keep women safe and to deal with high levels of self-harm and vulnerability were well developed;
  • work had improved with the small number of women who had very challenging and sometimes dangerous behaviour and vulnerabilities, including personality disorder and mental health conditions. While there were still concerns about two women who had been managed in the separation and care unit for over two years, the specialist input to manage their progression was good and would be developed further with interventions addressing personality disorder;
  • security was proportionate and the use of force was not excessive;
  • the environment was very good, and care was taken to keep the prison decent;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were very good and work to support the diverse range of women held was good;
  • the mother and baby unit provided excellent care and support;
  • resettlement work had improved significantly and excellent support was now provided for those women who had been abused, trafficked or were sex workers; and
  • offender management work was better than inspectors usually see and public protection arrangements were robust.

 

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the quality of teaching and learning remained too variable and outcomes in the key area of functional skills (including maths and English) needed to be better; and
  • despite little violence and few serious incidents, many women still complained that they had felt unsafe at some time and had been victimised by both other prisoners and staff, and more needed to be done to reassure women about safety.

 

Martin Lomas said:

“HMP Bronzefield was a very good and improved prison. Outcomes for the highly complex population were at least reasonably good or better in all our healthy prison tests, with the quality of respect and work to resettle prisoners particularly strong. It is a credit to the very capable leadership within the prison, and the committed and motivated staff group that the challenges they face continue to be met in such a positive and caring way.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“This is a very positive report and I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the excellent work of prison staff which has led to improvement in all aspects of work at Bronzefield.
“The Director and her team can be proud of their achievements. Bronzefield provides a safe decent regime focused on rehabilitation and effective resettlement to reduce reoffending and to keep the public safe.”

 

Notes to editors:    

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 13 April 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

Carer who sexually abused elderly victims has sentence increased to 15 years

christina-sethi

A “depraved” carer who filmed herself sexually abusing elderly victims at a residential home and shared the footage with her boyfriend has had five years added to her prison sentence.

Judges at the Court of Appeal in London agreed with Solicitor General Robert Buckland that the original jail term of 10 years imposed in the case of, 26, of Woodville Road, Torquay, was “unduly lenient”.

Sethi was sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court in August after earlier pleading guilty to five offences relating to the sexual abuse of two women and one man in her care.

The victims she selected all suffered from dementia. One was terminally-ill with cancer and receiving end of life care. Sethi used her mobile telephone to record the abuse.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with two other judges, said of Sethi, who watched today’s proceedings via video link from prison: “She sexually abused three elderly, vulnerable, mentally-impaired residents in the most shocking and depraved fashion.

“She filmed the abuse and shared it with her boyfriend.”

After referring to the significant impact the abuse has had on the families of the victims, the judge said: “We will never know what trauma has been suffered by the victims themselves.”

She announced: “We are satisfied that the overall sentence imposed was unduly lenient and it would be appropriate for us to intervene.

“In our judgment the least overall sentence that could have been passed is one of 15 years.”

 

Mr Buckland said after the hearing: “I asked the Court of Appeal to look at this 10-year sentence under the unduly lenient sentence scheme because multiple sexual offences were committed against three victims.

“The attacks themselves involved a degree of planning and premeditation and Sethi had no regard to the vulnerability of her victims, who she should have being caring for.

“I hope the increase in the custodial sentence to 15 years offers a degree of reassurance to the families of the victims.

“Care home residents and their families should have complete peace of mind that they will not be abused and I offer those involved in this case my sincerest sympathy for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the actions of this despicable woman.”

After Lady Justice Hallett told Sethi of the increase in her sentence, she replied: “OK, yeah. Thank you.”