Criticism for prison but it is not all bad

HMP Whitemoor Prison March 
Governor Will Styles
HMP Whitemoor Prison March Governor Will Styles

Levels of self-harm among prisoners at Whitemoor jail in March is relatively high and too many men who were being assessed for suicide and self-harm risk were being held in the segregation unit.

Others findings published this week following an unnannounced inspection carried out at the high security prison between March 13 and 23 this year showed at least two thirds of prisonsers had felt unsafe at some point, with 34 per cent claiming to feel unsafe at the time of the inspection.

Whitemoor high-security prison in March

Whitemoor high-security prison in March

Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, described a “bleak picture” of the segregation unit.

He said: “At our last inspection (2014), we had serious concerns about the use of force, and the culture and regime in the segregation unit, which led us at that time to conclude that outcomes were not good enough. At this inspection, we were still seriously concerned about some aspects of segregation. The unit was full and the regime offered was poor, consisting at best of a telephone call or shower every other day. Care planning did not address the underlying issues, ensure everything possible was being done to offset the detrimental effects of long-term segregation, or progress men to a more normal situation. In contrast to this bleak picture, we did observe improvements in the staff culture in the unit, with a more compassionate approach being adopted, and use of force in the unit had dropped considerably.”

Mr Clarke added: “Overall, and given the complexity of the issues being dealt with at Whitemoor, we were heartened by what we found. For the vast majority, it was a generally safe prison, conditions were reasonable and relationships with staff had improved.

“Our overriding concern was about the small but significant number of men in the segregation unit for long periods, and we considered that this needed urgent attention. Nevertheless, we commend the new governor, his senior team and staff for their work.”