HMP Isle of Wight plans to create basic standards of decency denied

Overcrowding, buckets as toilets and prisoners who could not vote — just some of the issues inspectors found in the latest check up of HMP Isle of Wight.

Inspectors found ‘not enough’ progress had been made following a previous inspection in 2019, when they made several recommendations to alleviate the situation.

The prison, which holds almost 1,000 inmates, almost all serving long sentences for sexual offences, were marked against 11 key criteria.

The inspectors’ improvement plans to ensure ‘basic standards of decency’ had been rejected by HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

These were designed to reduce overcrowding and give all prisoners access to a toilet overnight.

In one of the HMP Isle of Wight sites, prisoners were continuing to live in overcrowded cells — designed for only one person.

Some prisoners had to resort to using a bucket as a toilet overnight, and ‘slopping out’ in the morning, as they did not have facilities in their cell and the wait for a toilet at night could be more than a hour.

A maximum of eight prisoners could join the virtual queue for the toilet, each with a seven-minute allotted time frame — which elderly and disabled prisoners found to be to a challenge.

One prisoner, who uses a walking stick, told inspectors he had been locked out of the system because he was not back in his cell in time, which meant he could not rearrange permission to use the toilet for the rest of the night. Later in the night he wet himself inside the cell.

HMPPS also rejected a recommendation intended to ensure sick prisoners were transferred to a mental health facility in line with national guidelines.

One patient was found to have been waiting too long for a hospital bed during the 2019 inspection and was still waiting eight months later.

Remanded prisoners were also rejected a suitable place to support their needs — missing out on specific services to help them, release planning support and even exercising their right to vote in the December general election.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “The continued lack of action mean patients remain in facilities that are unable to meet their needs for significant periods of time.

“Taken as a whole, progress had not been good enough in the majority of areas. There had been good progress in three, reasonable progress in two, insufficient progress in one and no meaningful progress in five areas.

“This was a mixed review. Local managers had worked well and made progress in some important areas.

“However, HMPPS needs a change of approach to ensure accommodation meets basic standards and all prisoners receive appropriate support and health care.”