IMB REPORT NOTES CHALLENGES FOR REHABILITATION DURING COVID AT HMP KIRKHAM
In spite of strong leadership, the regime changes due to the Covid pandemic have made this a challenging year for rehabilitative work and culture at HMP Kirkham, an open prison preparing prisoners for release.
In its annual report, the Kirkham IMB notes positively that:
- During the pandemic the Governor and senior teams kept staff and prisoners safe while ensuring all regime changes and communications were clearly explained.
- With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, prisoners were once again able to access work within the community, as well as courses to help with rehabilitation. Face to face family visits were reinstated, as was home leave for those who were eligible.
- A new residential billet has been built, and occupancy is planned for early 2022.
However, the IMB raises the following concerns:
- The number of absconds and temporary licence (ROTL) failures
- The task of assisting and preparing prisoners towards eventual release was compromised during the pandemic
- Some prisoners sent to Kirkham were not ready for open conditions.
- There continued to be recurring problems with the heating and hot water supplies to some billets
IMB Kirkham Chair, Ruth Gili-Ross, said:
“During the year, although there were major infrastructure works and upgrades onsite, the flexibility of the workforce has allowed the regime to continue effectively, though it has inevitably been restricted because of the Covid pandemic. Managing high staff absences, due to Covid, has only been possible thanks to the commitment and dedication of the staff and the management team.
The prison has been an outbreak site three times this year. Infections were kept low with the co-operation of staff and prisoners making use of available testing as well as vaccinations. The working and living conditions at HMP Kirkham have remained a safe environment for both prisoners and staff. Also, with restrictions being lifted and ROTL returning, the Board would like to see more progress towards the abscond strategy.”