Self harm at Peterborough prison drops during lockdown - despite ‘inhumane’ conditions jail forced to impose

Self harm at HMP Peterborough has fallen by 30 per cent in the past year - despite ‘inhumane’ conditions the jail was forced to impose during the lockdown.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 5:00 am
Peterborough Prison.

A report from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said of the women’s side of the privately run jail ‘The regime restrictions imposed this year cannot be deemed humane, but are as mandated by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HPPS).’

On the men’s side, the report said: “The regime mandated by HMPPS and Public Health England could be considered inhumane but it was apparent that most prisoners both accepted it and coped extremely well, although there was an increase in referrals to mental health services on wellbeing grounds.”

The report went into details around the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, including men on lockdown wings only being allowed two showers a week, and limited time outside cells.

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However, despite the restrictions imposed to keep both inmates and staff safe during the pandemic, the report said: “Violence has reduced significantly this year. Management attribute success to good relationships between residents and staff, constructive use of security intelligence and the rollout of restorative approaches. Also, clearly the restricted regime and lack of association has limited the opportunities for violent incidents.

“Self-harm has also reduced considerably.”

There was a COVID outbreak at the jail in February, but it was ‘eliminated’ after two months, and the prison ran a vaccination programme.

The report said; “The pandemic has had a significant impact on the daily routines of the prison and the allocation of staff, therefore the statements made in the report do not reflect a fully operational regime. Nonetheless, the prison deserves considerable credit for the way in which the Covid-19 emergency has been managed. Strong leadership, flexibility, good communications and concerted effort have led to good safety outcomes for residents; however, their wellbeing and access to rehabilitation support were inevitably affected.”

There were concerns raised by the board over accommodation available for inmates on release, and also recommended the government look at a review of the effectiveness of short term sentences.

The report has been welcomed by Sodexo, who run the prison.

A spokesman said; “We always welcome comments from the IMB and their annual report. We particularly welcome the positive feedback on our continued focus on keeping prisoners safe and our management of the impact of the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, the prison liaised with Public Health England and HMPPS, taking the necessary steps to limit transmission of the infection and keep staff and prisoners safe. This inevitably had an impact on the prison’s routines, but care was taken to ensure that all prisoners received their minimum entitlements and that they were well supported by staff.”

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