Overcrowding in cells, hour-long waits to use the toilet at night and ‘poor’ accommodation for prisoners on remand are among the main concerns raised by inspectors, following a recent visit to the Isle of Wight’s prison.

According to a report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons, managers at HMP Isle of Wight have made ‘reasonable or better progress’ in five out of seven recommendations though.

It follows last year’s visit, when inspectors found there to be a rise in violence, fears for safety and an inadequate response from management, as previously reported by Isle of Wight Radio.

In that time, progress made by HMP Isle of Wight – which holds around 1,000 prisoners across two sites – was deemed ‘not good enough’.

Living conditions showed ‘no meaningful progress’, according to inspectors. They found that 160 prisoners continued to live in cells designed for one.

Most prisoners on the Albany site also had no toilet or sink in their cell. According to the report, they relied on an electronic system that allows them to individually use communal facilities overnight.

Staff said it was not unusual for prisoners to be waiting for up to an hour. As a result, many prisoners resorted to using a bucket and effectively ‘slopping out’ in the morning.

The report says ‘this was not an acceptable situation’:

“We spoke to one prisoner who used a walking stick, who told us he has recently been locked out of the system because he had returned late and had been unable to arrange permission to access the toilet for the rest of the night. He had wet himself in his cell.”

Progress of prisoners’ mental health care was also deemed ‘not meaningful’. One patient, who had been waiting ‘too long’ for a hospital bed during 2019’s inspection, was still waiting at the time of this visit (eight months later), according to the report.

Almost all prisoners at HMP Isle of Wight are serving long sentences for sexual offences, although there is a ‘small’ remand population.

Inspectors say a recommendation to move remand prisoners to an establishment that could better meet their needs was rejected by HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

Commenting on the findings, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, said:

“This was a mixed review. Local managers had worked well and made progress in some important areas. However, HMPPS needs a change of approach to ensure accommodation meets basic standards and all prisoners receive appropriate support and health care.”

Overall, there had been good progress in three areas, reasonable progress in two, insufficient progress in one and no meaningful progress in five others.

In the area of respect, managers had worked well to improve systems for prisoners’ applications and redress. Social care had also been improved by the implementation of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the Isle of Wight Council.

In rehabilitation and release planning, inspectors found there had been some work to improve oversight of the department and train prison offender managers (POMs).

You can read the full report here: 2020 IoW IRP final report