The failings of the HMP Winchester have now become so apparent to those outside of its walls, it has now been branded as inhumane.
Both the inside and outside factors of this Prison have caused huge upset to both its inmates, their families and surrounding over lookers within the board. Reports released have seen that even with inmates leaving the Prison have ended up homeless in the last nine months of them leaving.
However, reports had mentioned that during lockdown, funds from the homeless prevention taskforce (HPT) were used to help reduce the number of prisoners released into homelessness. But this is still to proven as failings have now seen data show that 63% of released prisoners have been categorised as having no fixed abode (NFA).
It has now been branded as unable to cope with the “underlying volatile atmosphere”.
The Category B and C Male Prison was originally built in the 1840’s. But now it is struggling with crumbling masonry surrounding it.
Parts of the Winchester Prison collapsed in earlier parts of the year The Independent Monitoring Board revealed.
Another incident became apparent when part of a wing remained closed after a lightning strike in August 2021 and inmates had damaged weak walls and windows
As well as this, reports claim that back in In July 2020, a large chunk of masonry, measuring approximately two to three feet long, fell from the roofline of the B wing, smashing onto the ground below it as it landed.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s (IMB) latest report on HMP Winchester has reported the high levels of violence within the Prison and and has claimed within their reports that the system is now failing to assist its inmates when they are released.
The Prison Service said violence had fallen significantly since the report but it recognised the need for “further strong action”.
Councillor Kelsie Learney, Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management, said “This is a national issue and should be of national concern. Prisons are meant to be assisting inmates access housing prior to release.
“Being a prisoner does not put a responsibility on the local authority where the prison is located to provide housing. Where a prisoner had a local connection to Winchester wherever they have been in prison we will assist as we would anyone else presenting as homeless.”
In its annual inspection, the board said the prison, which was removed from special measures by the government in November 2019, remained an “extremely challenging environment”.
The IMB noted that the pandemic drastically reduced prison regimes, with prisoners spending 23 hours a day in their cells.
Angus Somerville, Chair of the IMB, said “levels of violence, drug use and self-harm exacerbate the strain on safety, creating an underlying volatile atmosphere on the main wings”.
There were 193 assaults by prisoners on members of staff, an increase of 17 per cent over the previous year.
Work has started to replace a much-criticised segregation unit and the main wings were being refurbished, the report added.
The IMB said improved care of vulnerable inmates contributed to a year with no suicides.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “While the Board praised the professional way the prison was run during a uniquely difficult year, the need for further strong action has been recognised.
“Violence among prisoners has fallen significantly since the time covered by this report, and we are tackling assaults on staff by a small minority of prisoners with better training which is already having an impact.”
The inspection is ongoing.