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Crumbling fabric of Winchester prison impacting prisoners

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Winchester states in its 2022-23 annual report that the prison continues to make steady progress, helped by the highest staffing levels for many years. However the decaying fabric of the building and rising prison population make consistently high standards hard to achieve.

The following are among the key findings in the report:

  • The fabric of the buildings continues to deteriorate, with leaking roofs and rotting outside stairways. The Board was therefore even more disappointed that after work had started on building the new Care and Segregation Unit (CSU), the design was found to be unsatisfactory and building work had to be stopped.
  • There are only 295 places for education and employment across the prison, which accommodates less than half of the prison’s population. This severely impacts the prison’s ability to achieve its aims as a resettlement prison and prisoners’ chances of successful reintegration back into society.
  • The Board has significant concerns about the assistance offered to prisoners to find accommodation on release, particularly remand prisoners released after a not guilty verdict as they are not eligible for support. Roughly 30% of prisoners released in the reporting year did not have accommodation on their first night.

However, the Board also note that:

  • The improved staffing position has allowed prisoners to spend more time out of their cells and officers have had more time to develop relationships with prisoners despite the continuing overcrowding in the prison.
  • Two prisoners won awards from the Koestler art scheme, and the painted murals across the prison make a noticeable difference to the communal areas of the prison.

HMP Winchester IMB Chair, Rob Heather, says:

“There has been some improvement over the year: staffing numbers have increased and the Board observed better staff/prisoner relations, with many prison staff dealing sensitively and constructively with some very challenging prisoners. However, there remain areas where the prison fell short, including overcrowding and not enough purposeful activity. The old buildings continue to deteriorate.”