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HMP Gartree: Independent Monitoring Board commends management of Covid restrictions, but notes impact on prisoners

Publishing its 2020-1 annual report today, the IMB at HMP Gartree commends the way that both staff and prisoners were able to work with the necessarily severe restrictions that were imposed during the pandemic, but remains concerned about the impact of severe restrictions on prisoners’ future mental health and wellbeing.

The IMB  notes the following positives:

  • the support and care provided to prisoners, in very difficult circumstances, by the governors and staff
  • the 36% decrease in self-harm incidents , and the 34% decrease in incidents of violence

There are however still areas of concern, some of which have already been brought to the Minister’s attention in previous years. They include:

  • the unacceptable state of the showers, which are not fit for purpose
  • The situation of prisoners serving IPP sentences, who are now many years over the tariff period set by the courts
  • The number of category D prisoners who are seriously disadvantaged at parole hearings because they remain at Gartree and have been unable to prove themselves in open prison conditions.

IMB Gartree Chair, Tim Norman, said:

“We all suffered during the pandemic, but it was particularly hard on prisoners and their families. The prisoners had to spend nearly all day in their cells. With no access to family visits, purposeful activity, physical exercise and wider association, it was a very tough time indeed and reduced opportunities for progression and rehabilitation. Now that the prison is slowly returning to a pre-pandemic regime, the Board needs to ensure that longstanding issues, particularly those affecting the fabric of the prison, are addressed.”