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Increased population and staff shortages creating challenges at HMP Springhill

The population of the prison rose by 64% from mid-2022 to mid-2023, placing increasing pressure on already overstretched staff and the deteriorating fabric of the building. In its 2023 annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP Springhill highlights a number of concerns that are impacting prisoners’ chances of successful resettlement.

The IMB notes that:

  • The sharp increase in prison numbers resulted in the prison housing a more complex population mix, with the number of men belonging to organised crime groups trebling between the start and end of the year.
  • Many men suffered delays in getting security clearance to undertake work outside the prison, in part due to prison and probation staff shortages.
  • Staff shortages also affected employment and education opportunities within the prison; at the end of the reporting year three courses (carpentry, bookkeeping and business) were no longer running.
  • Decaying infrastructure resulted in numerous roof leaks, equipment breakdowns and faulty fire alarms, with repairs sometimes taking months to be completed.
  • An infestation of rats within the prison raised serious health and hygiene issues and caused significant distress to men during most of the reporting year.

However, the Board is pleased to report that:

  • In general, relationships between staff and prisoners were observed to be positive.
  • Although there was limited availability of education courses, completion rates continued to record impressive results.

IMB Springhill Board member, Roger Riddell, said:

“In spite of refurbishments made to living accommodation, most men still live in old huts in continual need of repair. As the prison population has grown, more men have been squeezed in to live two to a cell in cramped accommodation.

The delays in men being able to access work outside of the prison – a crucial part of the resettlement process – and limited on-camp education and employment opportunities within the prison, cause many men to feel frustrated.

Despite these limitations, the Board has observed mostly positive relationships between staff and prisoners and commend staff and senior management at HMP Springhill for all the work they have done to keep the prison safe.”