Concerns over turf wars between rival London gangs and staff shortages at Wayland Prison, says report
PUBLISHED: 16:46 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:46 06 September 2017
A report from an independent monitoring body has described a “volatile” situation, and “unrest” taking place at HMP Wayland.
A number of issues were raised including understaffing, violence, and “great concern” over the resettling of prisoners and the prevention of reoffending.
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) stated in its report that “unrest within the prison population” was leading to a “volatile” situation.
They also stated that: “the IMB have seen a number of serious incidents this reporting year, which are a culmination of the problems of a volatile section of the population.
“The number of serious incidents both prisoner on prisoner and prisoner on staff remains higher than we would like to see.”
They added that: “the board has had great concerns throughout the year about the services provided for resettlement for offenders nearing the end of their sentence. If not improved, it has great implications for re-offending”.
The board attribute this situation to a number of concerns, including: a lack of prison staff causing regular lockdowns; offenders with no release date; offenders sent hundreds of miles from home making family visits difficult and expensive; turf wars between rival London gangs; and the availability of psychoactive substances, and other drugs.
Staffing concerns were emphasised in the report, which stated: “At the beginning of the year there were only 139 [officers] in place.
“The required target is 187 in order to deliver the new officer management model. A proactive recruitment drive has taken place.
“However, the prison is losing on average 4 officers a month.”
Chair of the IMB, Trish Phillips confirmed that HMP Waylands governor, Paul Cawkwell, had seen the report.
She stated that the report included questions from the board to the Minister for Justice, and to the prison service and governor. She said: “We are waiting for a recognition that what we have noted are things that need to be put right”.
A spokesperson for the prison service said: “We are committed to transforming prisons into places of safety and reform and have announced a major overhaul of the prison system including 2,500 extra frontline officers”.
They added that: “While there remains progress to be made, HMP Wayland has already committed to addressing a number of concerns raised in the report, including reaching their target number of staff through a proactive recruitment drive”.
They also stated that four violence reduction officers were appointed at HMP Wayland towards the end of the year covered by the report, and that a new segregation unit is to be built to replace the older one.
British law requires that every prison be monitored by an independent board, and that they report their findings annually.