HMP Whitemoor’s population is made up of around 30% category A prisoners, 50% black, Asian and minority ethnic prisoners. The prison holds a disproportionate number of Muslim men, who account for over 40% of the population.
The prison also holds category B prisoners and functions primarily as a settlement and resettlement prison. That is it helps prisoners make the best use they can of long sentences and works to give prisoners skills to reduce later reoffending on the outside.
HMP has a Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder Unit. These prisoners have sever psychiatric issues and may be considered a danger to themselves, the prison staff or other prisoners. The prison also has a Close Supervision Centre. This unit is a prison within a prison for dangerous prisoners that don’t necessarily have a severe mental illness.
The prison has a nine bed inpatient health care centre and there is a full time doctor employed by HMP Whitemoor and 24 hour nursing care.
The latest report on HMP Whitemoor was published in July 2017 where inspectors found reasonable living conditions, a generally safe environment and good staff prisoner relationships.
However, the inspection did raise concerns over the segregation unit, it was full and the regime very poor. Some men were held for very long periods of time and some refused to be reintegrated into the general population.
In fact the prisons Internal Monitoring Board reported that one prisoner was kept in the segregation unit for over two and a half years. The IMB also reported that seven of the 24 prisoners in segregation at the time were held there for more than six months.
Prison rules allow a governor to segregate a prisoner for 72 hours but after that he or she has to seek authorization from the Secretary of State. Prisoners are segregated if they are thought to be a danger to other prisoners or are in danger. It can also be used as a punishment for disruptive behaviour.
The IMB cited a United Nations protocol which defines solitary confinement for more than 22 hours a day as torture and said many inmates in segregation at the Cambridgeshire jail were often confined for longer.