In its 2022-23 annual report the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Erlestoke reports having observed a generally well-managed prison, with reduced recorded incidents of self-harm and violence. However, more focus is needed on training and resettlement, which is the core purpose of the prison.
The report highlights that:
- Violent incidents decreased by 32%, from 149 in 2021-22, to 102 in 2022-23, which compares favourably to the latest national statistics in which violence has been rising.
- Diligent work was carried out by Listeners (a peer scheme backed by the Samaritans), who provide support to fellow prisoners in crisis.
However, the report draws attention to:
- The introduction of more stringent requirements for prisoner progression to open prisons which has had an adverse impact on prisoners’ health and wellbeing, especially those serving long or imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences.
- The shortage of jobs and vocational training opportunities within the prison due to difficulties with the recruitment and retention of tutors.
- The chronic national shortage of accommodation for prisoners with complex mental health needs who cannot be adequately cared for in a prison environment.
Chair of the IMB at Erlestoke, Kathryn Williams, commented:
“While we acknowledge the challenges the prison service has had to face, we are keen to see a renewed focus and drive towards meaningful training and resettlement opportunities to give prisoners hope going forward.”