Monday, July 7, 2014
Cuts to the prison service in Huntingdonshire are leaving young prisoners in their cells for up to 22 hours a day, according to a report.
While Littlehey Prison at Perry – which is also a young offenders’ institute and sex offender prison – is praised for providing a safe and secure environment and treating prisoners with decency, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) is critical of the effects of Government budget cuts.
It states that over the past year – up until January 2014 – too many education classes which were aimed at tackling re-offending have been cancelled, workshops have been closed, staff numbers have been reduced and some of the most experienced staff lost to voluntary redundancy.
The IMB says that during April and December last year, up to 25 per cent of classes/workshops were lost, in some cases leaving young men in their cells for up to 22 hours.
It believed the situation was so bad that the deputy director of custody and the Minister for Prisoners were alerted.
And board members have asked: ‘Does the minister appreciate that the cuts and constant changes being imposed may have a negative impact on reducing re-offending?’
The IMB said on some days during 2013, fewer than 50 young offenders were in education classes against a target of 228. More than 30 education staff left from the pool of 66, although the majority have been replaced.
Concerns were also raised about the amount of staff being re-deployed to other prisons to help cover shortages, and about the number of single cells being used for dual occupancy – 77 according to the report.
The prison was praised for its catering, its Duke of Edinburgh scheme (completed by 16 prisoners in the year), the introduction of retired greyhounds for some prisoners to look after until new homes are found, and the Trailblazers mentoring service.
Littlehey is changing to become an all-adult prison.