In its report for the year 2021-22, the IMB highlights the significant and positive progress in returning to pre-pandemic practices, to create a broad, prisoner-centric approach to resettlement.
However, this progress was made against a backdrop of:
- unsuitable men being sent to Ford. These are either those with less than six months to serve (Ford is set up to work with prisoners with at least a year left), or others who were incorrectly re-categorised in closed prisons and on arrival at Ford quickly were assessed as being unsuitable for open conditions.
- an under-resourced Probation Service which, together with the failure of the Metropolitan Police to carry out necessary checks, slowed the progress of men towards a successful release.
The IMB also reports on the need for at a minimum, the complete refurbishment of some of the older wings at HMP Ford, particularly in light of the plans for a significant increase in numbers at the prison.
Notwithstanding the above, the Board noted
- the investment made to support a more motivated staff team. This has made a noticeable difference in the day-to-day life of the prison, showing a clear commitment to improving prisoner outcomes.
- the consistent and integrated high quality of healthcare provision to all prisoners.
- the increasing number of employment opportunities being offered as the men develop plans for their resettlement back into the community.
IMB HMP Ford Chair, Mary Money, said:
“Prisoners work hard to gain access to an open prison.
“Successful resettlement outcomes have been hampered by staff shortages in the Probation Service, although some progress has been made.
“However, due to a lack of funding, the crumbling infrastructure has remained an issue. With plans to significantly increase the capacity of HMP Ford over the next two years, this is concerning.”