published this week by independent monitors of Britain’s largest fully operational prison, HM Prison Oakwood near Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, says that the facility continues to make progress.
Oakwood’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) found that prisoners are treated fairly and that the prison’s approach to encouraging the men at the establishment to lead and manage their own affairs continues to be successful. They said that the “wide-range” of prisoner-led initiatives is having a positive effect and consideration should be given as to how these programmes could be spread to other prisons in the country.
The Board was concerned about the increased threat of prohibited items entering the prison and the increased turnover of staff but reported that 165 new prison custody officers were recruited over the reporting year.
Director of HM Prison Oakwood, John McLaughlin, said:
"While today’s report sets out the challenges we have faced over the past year, I am encouraged the monitors find that our approach to engaging with prisoners and helping them to lead projects which will improve their prospects on release has been successful.
“Like prisons across the country, we have seen an increase in criminals targeting the establishment with drugs and mobile phones. As the report recognises, we have good links with Staffordshire Police and routinely refer illegal activity to them in order to help us tackle those who undermine the safety of our regime.
“Of the men we look after, 88 per cent are in work or education daily, underlining our commitment to providing access to the training, education and routine, which will equip them to return to their community able to turn away from crime. We will look carefully at the recommendations made in this report and will continue to work with partners in the community and the Ministry of Justice to make further progress at Oakwood in the year ahead.”
Notes to Editors:
About HM Prison Oakwood:
HM Prison Oakwood is a category C training prison with an operational capacity of 2,106 adult men. It opened in 2012 and is managed under a 15-year contract by G4S.
About independent monitoring boards:
The Prison Act 1952 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 require every prison and IRC to be monitored by an independent Board appointed by the Secretary of State from members of the community in which the prison or centre is situated.
The Board is specifically charged to:
(1) satisfy itself as to the humane and just treatment of those held in custody within its prison and the range and adequacy of the programmes preparing them for release.
(2) inform promptly the Secretary of State, or any official to whom he has delegated authority as it judges appropriate, any concern it has.
(3) report annually to the Secretary of State on how well the prison has met the standards and requirements placed on it and what impact these have on those in its custody.
To enable the Board to carry out these duties effectively its members have right of access to every prisoner and every part of the prison and also to the prison’s records.