Catalogue of failures in damning prison report on Evesham's HMP Long Lartin - The Evesham Observer

Catalogue of failures in damning prison report on Evesham's HMP Long Lartin

Evesham Editorial 14th Apr, 2023   0

SELF-HARM among prisoners at Evesham’s HMP Long Lartin has more than doubled with eight self-inflicted deaths in less than five years.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons revealed the finding among a damning catalogue of failures at the high-security prison which also include high levels of assaults on staff and prisoners and staff shortages.

A lack of toilets in cells in older wings of the jail meant prisoners relied on using buckets which they then emptied out of their windows after waiting for them to be removed and cleaned.

The findings were contained in a report following an unannounced inspection of the maximum security prison in December.

Among the inmates at the jail are the so-called Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright, jailed in 2006 for murdering five women and Vincent Tabak, who is serving life with a minimum of 20 years for the murder of Joanna Yeates.

At the time of the inspection, for example, of the 478 prisoners in residence, 141 were designated as category A, the highest security classification, and 449 were serving indeterminate sentences including life.

The rate of self-harm had doubled, making it the highest among comparable prisons, with 92 separate individuals having self harmed over the past year.

There had been eight self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2008, according to the report.

At Long Lartin, assaults on staff were also higher than other prisons with 107 violent incidents in the year leading to the inspection, including 42 assaults on prisoners and 65 on staff.

Key working, where a named member of staff meets regularly with a prisoner to support them through their time in custody, was not well used because of ‘severe staffing issues’.

Men spent most of their time locked alone in their cells and described a sense of hopelessness, according to inspectors.

Charlie Taylor, Chief Inspector of Prisons said: “Long Lartin had fundamentally lost its way. The prison needs to take urgent action to improve.”

“The ageing facilities were failing: heating and often water didn’t work, roofs leaked, there were no in-cell toilets in older wings and men relied on buckets which they emptied out of their cell windows as they waited so long for them to be removed and cleaned and the smell became unbearable.

“Given how long men were held in their cells, this was appalling. Unsurprisingly, the prison was battling with a rodent infestation.

“I hope the institution will use our inspection findings as the opportunity to reflect and hit reset.”

In response, a Prison Service spokesperson said: “Since the inspection we have taken robust action at HMP Long Lartin, including deploying extra staff and introducing new body-worn cameras for staff, which has led to a 125 per cent increase in the number of prisoners engaged in work and education and cut attacks against staff by 15 per cent.”

Sarah Rigby, national executive committee member of prison officers’ union the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) said the staffing issues at Long Lartin were ‘deep rooted’.

“Money and investment is needed to improve the physical and aging facilities at Long Lartin but no doubt the Governor will be expected to fund these improvements out of his existing budget, whilst also making further savings.

“This is just not good enough for our hard-working members who want to be able to do their job properly and effectively with the appropriate support from HMPPS and Government.”


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