In its 2021-22 annual report, the Norwich IMB notes that prison staff worked tirelessly to mitigate the effects of lockdown on prisoners, even though there were severely restricted regimes due to Covid and staff shortages.
The IMB found that:
- Prisoners were given televisions in their cells as well as extra support to buy personal items and stay in contact with their families.
- Staff took on additional hours to cover for colleagues who had to isolate.
- Healthcare and mental health staff made sure prisoners were seen and medicated as required even during lockdown.
- Education and vocational qualifications continued, with a combination of classroom based work and self-study.
However, staff shortages meant that many aspects of the prisoners’ regimes were cut or reduced and this has continued when lockdown finished. The IMB was also concerned t that the assessment and care plans for some prisoners who self-harmed fell short of best practice.
IMB Norwich Chair, Stephanie, said:
“Prison staff worked hard to keep prisoners safe and to support them as they spent long hours locked in their cells due to Covid restrictions and severe staff shortages. Installation of in-cell telephones and a video call service helped maintain family ties, as did the tireless work of the charity Spurgeons. The Board also recognises the progress made to seek to reduce reoffending through education and training, along with the links to local businesses which can offer opportunities for employment on release, and improvements in resettlement planning. However, ongoing staff shortages mean that prisoners are still experiencing reduced regimes, which is a serious concern.”