Concerns raised over poor rehabilitation work of offenders at HMP Isle of Wight

Concerns have been raised about poor rehabilitation work at a prison predominantly holding sex offenders amid high numbers of inmates maintaining their innocence.

Most of the prisoners at HMP Isle of Wight are behind bars for sex offences, serving long sentences for serious crimes, the Inspectorate of Prisons said in a report.

About 40% of the around 1,000 inmates held at the category B training prison are over 50 years old, with a “significant proportion” being elderly and sometimes frail.

Around half of the inmates maintain their innocence, according to the report.

The chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke found “rehabilitation” and plans for release were “not sufficiently good” when he visited the prison in April and May, adding that “safety had deteriorated”.

The long-term, high-risk sex offender population “presented significant challenges in rehabilitation and release planning”, Mr Clarke said, adding: “We found a very similar picture to the previous inspection.

“Fundamentally, some good work was undermined by a lack of up-to-date assessments of risk and need, high offender supervisor caseloads and a lack of contact between offender supervisors and prisoners.

“This meant the one-to-one motivational work needed with the large number of prisoners who were maintaining their innocence could not take place.”

In his report, Mr Clarke found more than half of the inmates said they felt unsafe in the prison, adding: “While violence was still not widespread, it had risen significantly since the previous inspection and the response of managers was not good enough, leading to inconsistent challenge of perpetrators and little support for victims.

“Managers need to address the weaknesses in offender management to ensure the prison fulfils its purpose of reducing the risks these long-term prisoners pose, both within the prison and, importantly, when they are eventually released.”

Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) director general of prisons, said: “We recognise that more work is needed to make the prison safer.

“Every prisoner now has a dedicated officer giving them personal support and, combined with working closer with probation and local authorities, we expect to see an improvement in arrangements to prepare prisoners for release.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.

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