An increase in violence against staff and self-harm, with concerns raised about elderly and disabled prisoners, are highlighted in a report about HMP Isle of Wight.

The report is produced by the volunteers who visit the site, to carry out independent checks, and you can READ IT IN FULL HERE.

According to the figures, there were 65 assaults on staff in 2018 – a rise of 13.5 per cent on the previous year. There were 656 incidences of self harm – an increase of 26 per cent.

However the report also notes that, throughout 2018, work was undertaken to address violence and self-harm. Overall violence is slightly down, and while figures show an increase in assaults on staff, they also demonstrate a decrease in prisoner-on-prisoner assaults.

The prison has an average population of about 1,080, and more than 98 per cent of its prisoners are sex offenders.

In the report based on observations made during visits, scrutiny of records and of data, informed contact with prisoners and staff, and prisoner applications, it is revealed that nine people died at the prison in 2018. Two of those were suspected to have been self-inflicted.

In September 2018, action was taken after it was thought that a psycho-active substance had affected staff. The wing was locked down and prisoners were asked if they felt unwell. One prisoner was taken to a dedicated area for checks. The report says there is concern that judicial investigations into psychoactive substance-related incidents do not happen fast enough, due to delays and length of time receiving forensic evidence. In May 2018, the prison bought a detection machine, to speed up the process and a further purchase was planned for 2019.

In some cases, lower-risk Category C prisoners are kept in accommodation meant for higher-risk prisoners due to a lack of places, according to the findings. And the report also says incorrect paperwork means some cases for Independent Adjudication are dismissed.

According to the report, although HMP Isle of Wight,

“does not normally discharge prisoners directly back into the community…there is a commitment to reintegration by the delivery of specific risk reduction programmes to prepare long term prisoners for their eventual release via other local prisons. Isle of Wight residents sentenced to short-term sentences and ex-remand prisoners are not prepared for release appropriately.”

Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which produced the report, Linda Johnson, said:

“To improve the overall safety of residents with complex needs, a Challenge, Support and Intervention Plan (CSIP) was introduced towards the end of the year.

“This was urgently required as there was a significant increase of 26 per cent self harm incidents during 2018.”

More than half of the prisoners are aged over 50 years old, with 96 aged between 70 and 91.

Nearly half of the prisoners assessed have some form of disability.

Ms Johnson said:

“The board continues to be concerned regarding the prison’s elderly and disabled residents, who are disadvantaged due to the age and structure of the establishment, together with the lack of funding for much needed alterations to provide an appropriate physical environment.”

HMPs Albany, Camp Hill and Parkhurst were merged on 1 April 2009, to form HMP Isle of Wight. On 19 April 2013, HMP Camp Hill was de-commissioned and closed.

A government report is expected shortly, along with a response from the MOJ which runs the prison service.