Winchester Prison Must Improve Safety And Overcrowding

16 November 2016, 07:06 | Updated: 16 November 2016, 07:08

Winchester Prison

A watchdog report's found some inmates at Winchester Prison are spending as little as 45 minutes out of their cells a day.

This was ``mainly owing to problems with staffing levels and supervision'', according to the report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The report's said the prison's making progress in some areas but needs to improve safety after six suicides since 2014.

It added: ``The few prisoners in full-time work had around eight hours unlocked each day, but part-time workers had around five hours and a significant minority of prisoners who were not in any activity had only 45 minutes a day out of their cell.

``At weekends, prisoners were regularly locked up for over 24 hours.''

Inspectors also found support for those at risk of self-harm was weak. Five prisoners had taken their own lives since the last inspection in 2014.

HMP Winchester in has two parts - a traditional Victorian establishment and local prison holding up to 561 prisoners of varying age, category and status, and the smaller West Hill site holding 129 sentenced category C prisoners.

The report said new prisoners were being treated reasonably well, and there were good initiatives to try to combat violence.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: 

``HMP Winchester continues to make progress - some of it very significant - notably in activity and resettlement.

``Some big challenges to improve safety remain and the limited access to time out of cell was undermining much that the prison could offer.

``Improvements to the environment and access to the basics of daily living also remained priorities.

``The prison had a cohesive and decent management team and progress in staff culture was commendable. We hope this report and the recommendations it makes will help encourage and sustain the momentum we have seen.''

The findings come amid intense scrutiny of the state of jails after officers staged protest action over health and safety concerns.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: 

``I'm pleased that the Chief Inspector acknowledges the progress made at Winchester but recognise that more needs to be done.

``Winchester will be one of the first prisons to benefit from the new funding for additional staff announced by the Secretary of State earlier this month. This will enable dedicated officer support for every prisoner as well as increasing staff supervision to support safety and to deliver purposeful regimes.

``The Governor and her team will use the recommendations in this report to maintain and accelerate progress at Winchester over the coming months.''