Regimes and conditions for prisoners at HMP Dartmoor are being compromised by staff shortages and a lack of investment, following the decision to close the 300 year old prison within two years, says the prison’s independent monitoring board (IMB).
The IMB found that the prison is generally safe and staff work hard to support prisoners. The annual report notes that during the height of the Covid -19 pandemic staff worked hard to keep the keep the prison running. However, the impact of the proposed closure is now adversely affecting prisoners’ welfare and conditions:
- Prisoners are sometimes locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, particularly at weekend, due to staff shortages and officers being diverted to other duties
- Lack of investment in infrastructure means that there are insufficient work and training opportunities, and recurrent problems with phones and boilers.
IMB Chair, Colin Stares, said:
“Our report highlights that although staff work hard towards keeping prisoners safe, the closure notice is having a negative impact on those who live and work in HMP Dartmoor. It is not acceptable that men are kept locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, only being allowed out to quickly shower and collect food. Other areas of the prison are impacted by a lack of capital investment which is having an impact on prisoners’ physical and mental health and places great pressures on staff.”
“The IMB are calling on the Prisons Minister to ensure that in the two years left until the prison is due to close, HMP Dartmoor receives the resources necessary to ensure that the prison is a safe and humane place.”