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High security prison remains safe despite challenging Covid restrictions

Publishing their annual report today, independent monitors at Full Sutton prison report that the high security prison remained safe and secure, in spite of the pressures created by the Covid pandemic.  However, Covid restrictions significantly reduced prisoners’ access to education, work and association, as they spent much of the day in their cells.

The Board notes the following positives:

  • Prison governors and staff successfully limited the spread of Covid within the prison through a dedicated Covid19 Team, while maintaining safety and security
  • Regular communications with prisoners via a newsletter and prisoner council meetings ensured that prisoners understood the reasons for restrictions and changes to the regime
  • The sequencing of the Covid-19 vaccination programmes mirrored that in the community

However, the Board remains concerned about:

  • an increase in incidents of self-harm and violence between prisoners, although there were fewer assaults on staff
  • planned improvements to, and increases in, the provision of education and employment could not take place.  This will continue to be monitored in 2022.
  • Drug testing regimes had to operate with reduced staffing.

Richard Terry, Chair of the IMB, said:

HMP Full Sutton houses some of the country’s most complex and serious prisoners. 2021 was a testing and tiring year for prisoners and staff alike. Our overall assessment is that prisoners were treated fairly by the regime, despite the changing pressures created by the pandemic. Action was taken where possible to mitigate the effect of the restrictions, and the prisoners themselves coped well. The Governor and staff, through their effort and hard work, limited the spread of the virus, maintained security, and ensured the environment was as safe as possible”.