HMP Bristol inmates and prison staff safety concerns

Inside HMP Bristol
Image caption Bristol Prison was built in the late 19th Century with B and C wings added in the 1960s

Low staffing levels at Bristol Prison are having a "detrimental impact" on prisoners and on staff morale, according to a prison watchdog report.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said it had safety concerns for staff and inmates due to a lack of officers.

The jail holds more than 600 male adults, both convicted and on remand, and is located in Horfield.

A prison service spokesman said they had "increased staffing levels" and "prisoners' needs were being met".

The report acknowledged the "continuing requirement to make financial savings" was "a challenge" for HMP Bristol's governor.

But it said the reduced number of prison officers at certain times on some wings made both inmates and staff "feel unsafe".

Image caption HMP Bristol's IMB is made up of volunteers who check standards of care and decency

'Rat and cockroach infested'

Chairman of the IMB for Bristol Prison, Dr Michael Flannery, said: "The board is becoming more concerned about the lack of prison officers. We worry about the safety of the prisoners and the staff.

"And we worry about decency - a cockroach and rat-infested dirty environment is not going to help people you're hoping to eventually rehabilitate."

A separate report, released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMCIP) in September, after an unannounced visit in May also criticised the category-B prison.

This was referred to in the IMB report which said the HMCIP report had "shared many of these issues of concern".

The IMB report highlighted the closure of HMP Gloucester earlier in the year as having an impact on Bristol's jail.

It said that although Bristol's governor had "dealt effectively with the additional demands" the "workload in relation to resettlement had increased considerably".

It said Gloucester's closure had resulted in an increase in the number of prisoners on remand.

Poor standards of cleanliness were also raised. Toilet facilities on B-wing were described as "particularly poor" with no in-cell sanitation.

The board was told there were "no plans to replace these facilities" as there was "no budget for the work".

'Major restructure'

A shortage of skilled work and vocational training was also raised in the report.

Prisoners complained about the increasing amount of lost property during transfers between prisons and visitors reported "continuing difficulty in booking visits".

The IMB said the Segregation Unit was "well managed" and praised staff in the unit for providing a "high level of care".

A prison service spokesman said: "HMP Bristol has been through a major period of restructure and change with significant investment to improve the prison.

"We have increased staffing levels, the number of activity places for prisoners and the amount of time they spend out of their cells.

"Good work is now taking place in resettlement and offender management and the needs of prisoners are largely being met."

He added the report would be "fully considered by ministers who would respond in due course".

The IMB is made up of volunteers who check standards of care and decency in prisons and report their findings to the Secretary of State.

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