Thursday, 17 June 2021

Prison should do more to help foreign inmates

HUNTERCOMBE Prison in Nuffield is a safe place and offers meaningful training and education for inmates, according to a watchdog.

But more needs to be done to improve the inmates’ behaviour, says the inspectorate of prisons.

For the last five years Huntercombe has been run as a category C prison for 480 adults and is one of only two facilities in the country with the sole purpose of holding convicted foreign nationals before they are deported or released.

Its last inspection was carried out in late 2012 when it was completing its transition from a young offenders institute and was rated “good”.

The latest inspection was carried out in February and was unannounced.

Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, said he believed Huntercombe remained largely good overall.

He said: “Huntercombe remained a safe prison, despite some surprisingly poor perceptions among prisoners.

“Levels of violence were low and despite the prevalence of self-harm, men in crisis were reasonably well cared for.

“Work to promote safety was generally effective and security was proportionate. Force was rarely used and the use of segregation was low.”

He found that the accommodation was clean and properly maintained, although some cells were overcrowded.

Mr Clarke said that while prisoners had a “significant” amount of time outside their cells, there was not enough education and work to employ everybody full time.

However, all places were allocated fairly and the quality of learning, skills and work activities was “meaningful”.

Ofsted, the education watchdog, had rated the overall effectiveness of this as “good”.

Mr Clarke said the challenge facing the prison was how it could help inmates prior to their departure or release. He said: “In the six months before our arrival just 12 men had been released into the community.

“Some 185 had been deported, repatriated or sent to an immigration removal centre. Many of this latter group would be subsequently deported.

“Despite some prisoners posing significant risk, offender risk management and sentence planning
was under-resourced and ineffective.

“Public protection arrangements were reasonable, especially in relation to prisoners released in the UK, but it was unclear how risk in general was being addressed.”

The inspector has recommended to the Ministry of Justice that it clarifies Huntercombe’s role in offender management, particularly how it deals with risks posed by those to be released or deported.

Mr Clarke added: “The managers and staff of Huntercombe should be praised for maintaining a safe, decent and purposeful institution which, in the main, treated its prisoners with respect.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “The staff at Huntercombe deserve credit for this positive report, which recognises the prison is delivering a safe and decent environment for its offenders.

“Given that the prison only holds foreign nationals, staff face considerable challenges in supporting their resettlement abroad. We will review arrangements to improve services where we can.”

Huntercombe was originally built as an internment camp and became a prison after the Second World War. It was a borstal until 1983.

In 2000 it became a prison for male juveniles aged 15 to 18 and in November 2010 it became an adult category C training prison.

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