Friday, 21 September 2018

Foreign inmates complain of victimisation at prison

HUNTERCOMBE Prison has been criticised for “offensive stereotyping” of its foreign inmates.

HUNTERCOMBE Prison has been criticised for “offensive stereotyping” of its foreign inmates.

A report by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the jail had coped well since it began housing only foreign nationals last year.

But it said some inmates had complained about “a lack of cultural sensitivity” and victimisation.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “Huntercombe is an example of a prison that has not been overwhelmed by change. It has embraced the challenge, exploited its strengths and planned effectively where it needed to develop new services.

“There were gaps, some significant, and some catch-up was required but overall the prison was doing well in adapting to its new role.”

Inspectors, who interviewed 173 of the 407 inmates, said they were pleased to find that most prisoners felt safe, were well-supported and benefited from sufficient time out of their cells and engaged in activities.

The use of force was found to be generally low and security procedures were proportionate but self-harm had risen slightly and the inspectors said segregation was over-used with insufficient accountability for its use.

The report said the prison had begun to assess the resettlement needs of its new population and a strategy to reduce re-offending was developing.

It said: “Virtually all education, vocational training and work were accredited and the breadth and quality of what was on offer was very good.

“As is often the case with a foreign national population, more could have been done to meet the needs of those due to be deported but Huntercombe had a more developed approach to reducing risk and resettling foreign nationals than other similar prisons.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: “This is a positive report that recognises the good work of the governor and staff during a period of change at Huntercombe.

“I am pleased that the chief inspector has highlighted the quality of purposeful activity and the outstanding achievements in prisoner learning. The prison will continue to build on this and work to address the concerns raised.”

Henley MP John Howell said: “This is a good report into how Huntercombe works. There are a lot of key strengths identified, including engagement and communication with prisoners.

“However, I would like to see the prison move ahead with the establishment of an on-site UK Borders Agency presence to help move prisoners on.

“Equality and diversity issues remain important at the prison. However, let us be under no illusion that people have been sent here to be punished.

“The fact is that the prison is doing well in adapting to its new role.”

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