Prisons minister ‘needs to create a more humane system’

The entrance to HMP Full Sutton
The entrance to HMP Full Sutton

Prison monitors at HMP Full Sutton are concerned over the amount of time some inmates are being kept in the segregation unit.

In its annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Full Sutton is asking prisons minister, Andrew Selous, to create a more humane system.

Prisoners are sent to the segregation unit either for their own protection or in the interests of good order and discipline and a recent Supreme Court ruling states that 14 days is the point that some prisoners may start to suffer adverse effects of segregation. In its report the IMB highlights that two prisoners at Full Sutton had been segregated for more than a year and the average length of stay for prisoners in segregation in the last few months of 2015 was 47 days.

The unannounced inspection of HMIP has also raised concerns of the number of prisoners segregated for extended periods of time. The board disagreed with HMIP’s findings that “relationships between staff and prisoners were not good enough”.

The Board have witnessed many examples of prisoners being treated in a sensitive and respectful manner.

“Solutions are difficult to achieve as the problem is a whole system issue and the IMB congratulates the governor and all his staff on the maintenance of high standards,” said chairperson Helen Scull.

“We are also concerned at the impact and the potential impact of the overall reduction in staffing levels,” said Ms Scull. “The Board appreciates that this has resulted from national policy and we are relieved that through good management and successful staff relations there has been no detectable reduction in safety and stability at the prison so far.”

“Never the less staffing reductions have resulted in significant service curtailment which has impacted on prisoner wellbeing,” she said.

Lack of medical staff has also caused problems and at one stage caused the closure of the in-house renal dialysis service.

Overall the IMB recognises that Full Sutton is a high performing dispersal prison where, by and large, prisoners are treated humanely despite the increasing constraints placed upon it, said Ms Scull.

The Independent Monitoring Board at Full Sutton is made up of volunteers. If you would be interested in joining the Board then please contact www.imb.org.uk