Bids to get drugs into Lancaster Farms have been cut thanks to a higher level of security and searches, an independent report has found.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s annual report at HMP Lancaster Farms noted that while Governor’s reports during the reporting period indicated that there was a high level of substance misuse, measures were introduced to reduce this, and have had some success.
These included increased physical security around the perimeter to reduce ‘throw overs’ and use of drones.
Cooperation with the police has led to arrests of individuals attempting to bring drugs into the prison, dog searches are regularly used and a high level of awareness has led to intelligence-led confiscation of drugs.
The report, which covers February 1 2017 to January 31 2018, found that overall Lancaster Farms is a well-managed prison which is responsive to comments made by the board and generally provides a safe environment for prisoners in which, to a large extent, they are treated fairly and humanely.
The report says that generally, prisoners are treated humanely – they are able to serve their time in reasonable safety and are treated with an appropriate degree of respect and decency. Those segregated are appropriately treated with segregation reviews operating effectively.
All prisoners benefit from the modern and reasonably well-maintained and campus-like premises and have reasonable access to healthcare services and to an expanding, but still not complete, range of purposeful activities.
However, concerns in relation to humane treatment are raised by the often lengthy use of segregation for own protection prisoners, the ‘bleak and indecent’ nature of the exercise yards in the segregation unit, the increasing use of double cells and lunch that has to be eaten in (sometimes double) cells with unscreened toilets.
Lancaster Farms is a Category C resettlement prison, currently with accommodation for 560 adult male prisoners. Pressures within the prison estate have led to a recent increase in the operational capacity from 549.
To accommodate this, more single cells have been converted to double occupancy, with around a quarter of prisoners now being accommodated in this way.
The report says members of the board have ‘grave reservations’ about double cell provision in principle, but especially where the change has been made by the conversion of single cells to double cells simply by adding bunkbeds.
Progress has been made to ensure prisoners are well prepared for release.