Beds, Herts & Bucks

HMP Woodhill 'very demanding' to manage, IMB report says

HMP Woodhill
Image caption HMP Woodhill is "very demanding to manage" a watchdog has said

Overcrowding, staff shortages and four deaths in custody have led to a "very challenging" year at a Buckinghamshire jail, a prison watchdog has said.

The Independent Monitoring Board annual report said inmates at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes were having to spend more time locked in their cells.

It also found rehabilitation opportunities were limited.

Governor Rob Davis said it was a "true reflection" but the prison had "moved on since the report".

The report, which covers 12 months from June 2013, describes Woodhill as a "complex, diverse establishment, very demanding to manage".

Staff morale was low, while concerns about safety, control and discipline, which featured in the previous year's report, had not been dealt with satisfactorily.

There were shortages of staff at all grades with a high take-up of voluntary redundancy and a recruitment freeze imposed by the National Offender Management Service.

Other concerns included shortages of toiletries, toilet paper, towels and bed linen. Repairs to equipment took too long.

Rehabilitation was "minimal" with "few opportunities for purposeful activity, be it education or work".

'Dedicated' staff

Mr Davis said: "We understand the pressures as a prison service we are under but there are some good points in [the report]."

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Image caption Governor Rob Davis said HMP Woodhill had "moved on since the report"

Complaints over concerns such as bullying had "reduced considerably" and there were "many dedicated, hard-working staff", he said.

Staff had come in from other prisons and inmates could now work for qualifications.

"I'm not in charge of a poor-performing prison, I'm in charge of a very good prison, with very professional people working here," he said.

"There is always room for improvement and Woodhill has got some ground to make [up] .... I am very confident we will make those changes.

"I am confident I have got the team here that can drive the place forward."

The IMB has submitted the report to the Justice Secretary.

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