Disillusioned and victimised, these are just examples of how Prisoners at HMP Chelmsford have been treated by staff during their time within the “most violent local prisons” in the UK.
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor had announced that a recent report raised concerns over the wellbeing of their prisoners, and that recent warnings had shown that they were not being kept safe whilst inside the Prison.
It is the ninth time the “urgent notification” protocol has been used since it was introduced in 2017.
Then, in 2019 an Independent Review of Progress (IRP) at HMP Chelmsford in Essex found “significant concerns about safety” and found drugs “were easy to obtain”.
IRPs are a type of visit made by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) to check if prisons are implementing recommendations made at previous inspections.
In October 2018, 10 recommendations were made to improve the prison. It was also recommended that the prison should be provided with more up-to-date drug detection equipment to help reduce the supply of drugs as well.
An Independent Review of Progress (IRP) at HMP Chelmsford in Essex found drugs were easy to obtain.
Nearly half of all inmates at the prison, which can hold up to 700 people, failed drugs tests last year.
Although good progress was being made in improving living conditions and reasonable progress in reducing levels of violence, improving care provided by staff and governance of the jail, the report said. It had made insufficient progress in reducing drug taking, consulting with prisoners, time out of cells, exercise and assessment of resettlement needs.
However, conditions over the years have not proven major changes, as Mr Taylor found major problems with the safety of prisoners, resulting in eight self-inflicted deaths since 2018 and four “non-natural deaths” in three years.
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “These findings are unacceptable – Chelmsford is already on our list of prisons receiving priority support but it is clear this work must go further and faster.
He then continued…
“Work has already started on improving accommodation, increasing training and bringing in additional, experienced staff.
“The Prison Service is urgently pursuing every option to ensure that this situation is addressed.”
It was also noted that HMP Chelmsford was named as one of the prisons with the highest rates of suicide rates.
There have been 17 suicides at the jail since 2010 – the fifth most across the entire prison estate.
Ms Coles called the prison “incredibly unsafe” and said the rate of suicides “suggests that the plethora of recommendations following previous self-inflicted deaths have not been implemented”.
She continued: “Inquests repeatedly identify the same systemic failings with dismal regularity.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “One self-inflicted death is one too many which is why we have provided specialist training for staff at Chelmsford prison to help them identify, monitor and support vulnerable offenders.