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Changing population places additional pressure on resources at HMP Lancaster Farms

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP Lancaster Farms has today (9 July 2024) published its annual report for the reporting year 2023-24. The Board is pleased to report that relationships between staff and prisoners were observed to be positive but remains concerned about the impact the changing population has had on prisoners’ day to day lives.

The Board notes that:

  • The prison, like those elsewhere across England and Wales, is full to capacity. This has resulted in some men sharing cells designed to accommodate one, with little privacy, particularly when using the in-cell toilet and telephony.
  • Use of force incidents increased by 96% over the reporting year.
  • A number of men who are in need of specialist mental health support remain within the prison due to a lack of specialist secure settings for them to be transferred to.
  • Prisoners’ personal property continues to go missing on transfer, leaving some men without their belongings when they arrive at the prison.

However, the Board is pleased to report that:

  • Relationships between staff and prisoners appear to be positive and men seem to be treated fairly by staff.
  • It remains impressed by the employment hub and the development of new employment opportunities for men on release, supporting the prison in its function as a resettlement prison.

Robin Talbot, IMB Chair of HMP Lancaster Farms, says:

“We see good interaction between staff and prisoners on our regular visits to the prison. This is even more relevant when you realise the enormous pressure the prison estate is under as a whole.

While the Board has reported a number of positive findings, there are recommendations for the new Prisons Minister to address. There is a clear need to increase the number of specialist secure settings to care for those prisoners with complex and enduring mental health conditions. More resources are required to maintain a prison now over 30 years old and to support the accommodation of its increased population. In addition, something needs to be done about the amount of personal property that goes missing on transfer between prisons.”