Winchester Prison “Still Not Safe”


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HMP Winchester is under fire again in a new report out today, with officials branding an unannounced inspection as “disappointing.”

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons carried out the unannounced inspection in June and July 2019.

At the time of the inspection, 486 prisoners were being held, of whom 122 were housed in the category C facility (adult men) and 364 in the Category B unit (adult and young adult men).

The inspectors say they found “significant deterioration” on the ‘B’ unit compared with findings at the previous 2016 inspection, with decline evident in three of four tests of a healthy prison.

On the category C unit, the inspectors say outcomes remained reasonably good in safety and respect but had deteriorated in purposeful activity and rehabilitation and release planning.

Despite this concerning picture, there was some evidence that the decline had been arrested and some tentative improvements made.

The inspectors say Winchester is not safe enough. Arrangements to receive new prisoners were slightly improved but still not good enough with, for example, only limited checks on new arrivals during their first night.

Violence remained rare on the category C site but had increased markedly in the local prison, particularly against staff.

Almost a quarter of respondents to their survey said they felt unsafe, and well over half of all prisoners reported feeling victimised.

The prison had taken steps to improve the situation, for example by gathering and analysing useful data, but much of the response was lacklustre or too recent to have had a significant impact.

Use of force is said to have increased since the last inspection, which the prison put down in part to the inexperience of their staff. The report says clear weaknesses remained, including a need for training in de-escalation techniques.

Inspectors are also concerned about a lack of improvement in work to reduce self-harm; the recorded incidents had doubled since the last inspection, leading to levels higher than any other local prison in the country.

Seven prisoners had also taken their own lives, three in the previous 12 months.

Inspectors say it was too soon to assess the impact of new strategies to help reduce self-harm.

You can read the full report here