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HMP Gartree: a seriously deteriorating infrastructure and an increase in violence

In its 2021-22 annual report published today, the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Gartree reports that, although there have been some improvements, criminal activity continues to exert influence and the fabric of the crumbling building remains ‘dark, dingy and in need of repair’, as reported by the Inspectorate of Prisons in 2020. The Board, however, acknowledges the work done by the Governor and senior management to restore prison life to normal after the damaging effects of the pandemic.

The IMB notes:

  • The fabric of the building continues to deteriorate, and is the major concern.
  • A continued influx of drugs and other illegal items, and an increasing number of drone sightings and finds.
  • A rise in violent incidents and assaults, both by prisoners on staff, and prisoners on other prisoners.
  • An increase in the number of recorded incidents of self-harm.
  • 25 of the 42 IPP prisoners at Gartree are recorded as being neurodiverse or are diagnosed with a mental health condition, and little significant progress is being made nationally in progressing them.

The Board, however, notes the following positive areas:

  • Relationships between prisoners and staff are generally good with many supportive interactions observed.
  • There are additional employment opportunities and qualifications.
  • There has been an improvement in the prison’s complaints system.

IMB Gartree Chair, Tim Norman, said:

“While we recognise the hard work of staff, we remain concerned at the increased level of violence and are dismayed at the lack of progress on necessary repairs to the fabric and infrastructure. For example, the Minister informed us in July 2022 that the shower renovations would be completed by January 2023, but work has not yet even started, let alone been completed.

“Prisoners should not have to live in, and staff should not have to work in, such conditions.”