“MASS INTOXIFICATION” At Cumbria Prison – As Prisons Minister Rory Stewart Does A Photo Call At Bristol Prison 250 Miles Away

In their latest annual report published today 1st March 2019 the IMB at HMP Haverigg, Cumbria’s only prison says there is continuing concern about the impact of widespread use of Psychoactive Substances (PS) not only on those addicted to its use but on the general prison population, staff and but also on the overall regime.

The report is published on the day that the Prisons’s MP – and Prisons Minister – Rory Stewart – spends the day 250 miles away at Bristol Prison.

Death risk from Psychotic Drugs

 It is disturbing to note in two reports from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, that PS may have been a contributory factor in two deaths in custody which occurred during the year within weeks of each other. Near fatalities in the latter half of the year have only been prevented by the swift and effective action of officers and healthcare staff.

Increased surveillance systems initially disrupted the supply chain of illicit drugs into the prison, but access to PS resumed, despite the best efforts of the management.

IMB Chair Lynne Chambers explains

“The Board has observed on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, the effects of the use of illicit substances, and on one day in November, when seventeen prisoners were found to be under the influence of PS in a ‘mass intoxication’

The impact on the populations of South and West Cumbria of the concentration of Northwest Ambulances at the prison throughout that day is likely to have been significant”.

Emotional challenges

The geographical isolation of HMP Haverigg, the limitations of public transport and an underdeveloped road network present both practical and emotional challenges to prisoners and their families in maintaining links. However, the Board commends the innovative work of the “Visitors and Children’s Support Group” in hosting a range of events for Families, Lifer/Long term prisoners, Enhanced prisoners, and the Kainos “Challenge to Change” programme.

Although tackling the use of PS and other illicit substances, has, necessarily, been of high priority throughout the reporting year, the Board has, nonetheless, observed the good progress and positive impact of the Rehabilitative Culture initiative on the prison population.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales, said it was a “shocking report”.

Mr Leech said: “Rory Stewart, who is not only a Cumbrian Member of Parliament but also Prisons Minister, should not be all smiles and shaking hands 250 miles away outside Bristol Prison – but right outside Haverigg main gate answering questions as to what on earth he is going to do to correct the defects identified in this shocking report.

“It seems Rory Stewart couldn’t care less”

Key Report Findings  

Are prisoners treated fairly?  

The effectiveness of the Rehabilitative Culture and Restorative Justice initiatives have had a significant impact on the outcome of adjudications with the IMB receiving just two applications from prisoners arising from this process. The Independent Monitoring Board is of the view that prisoners are treated fairly.

Are prisoners treated humanely?

The Board is of the opinion that the prison continues to have an emphasis on humane treatment and has regularly observed sensitive and respectful interaction between staff and prisoners. However, there have been occasions when some prisoners have had to endure unacceptable and adverse living conditions.,

Are prisoners prepared well for their release?

The Board has received a large number of applications from prisoners relating to sentence management and of these a third concerned preparations for release including accommodation, approved premises, bank accounts, support services and medication, for example. The Board is concerned that lack of preparation and resources to support prisoners in the community after release may increase the risk of re-offending.

For further information contact: the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Haverigg:

Notes

The Independent Monitoring Board is a body of volunteers established in accordance with the Prison Act 1952 and the Asylum Act 1999 which require every prison and IRC [Immigration Removal/Reception Centre] to be monitored by an independent Board, appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice, from members of the community.

To carry out these duties effectively IMB members have right of access to every prisoner, all parts of the prison and also to the prison’s records.

HMP Haverigg opened over 50 years ago, is on an old military airfield site dating from World War II and some of the original wartime buildings, are still in use.

Most of the prisoners are serving sentences of four or more years, although a significant number are serving a life sentence and a small number are of foreign nationality.

Read The Report

HMP/YOI Moorland – New Psychoactive Substances Threat Level Raised To ‘Severe’

moorland_prisonThe availability of new psychoactive substances was threatening to undermine recent progress at Moorland, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the South Yorkshire resettlement prison.

HMP/YOI Moorland holds around 1,000 prisoners, of whom around 250 are foreign national offenders and 340 are sex offenders. The prison is in the process of adapting to its new role as a resettlement prison for the area. The recent history of the prison has been one of uncertainty and disruption and at one point the prison had been earmarked for privatisation.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the threat posed to the stability of the prison by new psychoactive substances (NPS) is severe and despite some positive initiatives, the situation appears to be deteriorating and needs to be addressed;
  • forty-eight per cent of prisoners now say it is easy to get drugs at Moorland compared to 28% at the last inspection;
  • the number of violent incidents, fights and assaults had increased since the last inspection in 2012 and levels were also higher than at similar prisons;
  • almost one in five prisoners surveyed said they felt unsafe at the time of the inspection;
  • staff often struggled with the many demands made of them and, while most contacts with prisoners were polite, they were also mostly brief and often superficial;
  • work on diversity continued to be weak and had been undermined by chronic understaffing in the area; and
  • the overall strategic approach to resettlement lacked focus and too much of the work of the offender management unit was process-driven.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • care for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm was generally good;
  • there had been substantial improvements in the management and availability of work, training and education, with places for 87% of the population; and
  • the prison had successfully introduced a sex offender treatment programme in response to being re-roled as a national resource for holding sex offenders.

 

Peter Clarke said:

“There are real opportunities at Moorland to make progress, but the issues of NPS and inefficiencies in routine transactions that have such a negative impact on prisoners’ experiences need to be addressed. In particular, there is a real opportunity to make progress in embracing the prison’s new role as a resettlement prison, and in delivering treatment programmes for sex offenders. We saw evidence that many staff wanted to build constructive relationships with prisoners and to address the challenges facing Moorland. It will be the task of a focused and visible leadership team to inspire the staff to grasp the opportunities provided by the new roles that Moorland has assumed.”

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

“I am pleased that the inspector has highlighted the real progress being made at Moorland in purposeful activity as well as successfully introducing and managing sex offenders. The prison is currently going through a challenging time of transitioning to its new role as a resettlement prison and is working to ensure prisoners are prepared for release.

“We are not complacent about safety and there is clearly more work to do to address levels of violence and tackle increasing availability of NPS at the prison. The Governor and staff have put measures in place to reduce the rise in drugs and I am confident the team will continue to build on the firm foundations in place to take this work forward.

Read the report – copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 10 June 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons