1. ITV Report

HMP Liverpool - treatment of vulnerable is 'unacceptable'

HMP Liverpool Photo: PA

HMP Liverpool is being criticised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons for making "slow progress" in addressing deep-rooted problems.

The report from the prisons inspectorate follows an unannounced visit in December. HMP Liverpool had previously been criticised for problems associated with drugs, violence and bullying. There are currently around 1,200 prisoners there.

The report claimed. 'Most vulnerable prisoners had, at some time, feared for their safety in the prison.'

Mark Leech a prison commentator says it's not all doom and gloom though.

Extracts from the report.

HMP Liverpool, known locally as Walton Gaol, is a large, local prison for remand and convicted men mainly from the Merseyside area. Previous inspections have found very little progress made in addressing some of the prison’s deep-rooted problems and so it is to the credit of the current management and staff that this inspection found progress was being made, albeit painfully slowly and with some significant gaps.

We found evidence that a problem of misplaced risk information identified by an investigation into a self-inflicted death earlier in 2011 was repeated on the arrival of another prisoner during the inspection. There had been three self-inflicted deaths since our last inspection and very sadly another death, which appeared to be self inflicted, took place during the course of the inspection itself.

Most vulnerable prisoners had, at some time, feared for their safety in the prison. Problems With first night procedures were a significant factor in this. There were designated first night landings for ordinary and vulnerable prisoners but neither had the capacity required to cope with the flow of prisoners. This was bad enough for the general population but we found vulnerable prisoners located among the general population in their first week who had been forced to remain in their cells, unable to shower or associate. Most vulnerable prisoners had a very poor induction. Even after the first night and induction periods, the vulnerable prisoner wing did not have space for all and we found incidents of vulnerable prisoners who had been assaulted on the main wings where they had had to be located. Relationships between staff and prisoners on the vulnerable prisoner wing were good, but poor arrangements for securing the safety of vulnerable prisoners restricted their access to almost all other parts of the regime. They were less likely to be able to shower daily. They had very poor access to education, work and library provision, and no access at all to vocational training. Many did not even feel safe enough to attend religious services because these were held jointly with the main population. They had less access to some resettlement support and they felt stigmatised and threatened during visits. This was an unacceptable state of affairs and there was little sign the prison was addressing it in the determined way required.

The challenge of making the improvements that HMP Liverpool requires should not be underestimated. There is still a need for significant improvements and some aspects of the regime – particularly the treatment of vulnerable prisoners and those on the basic incentives level – are unacceptable.

However, overall this inspection found improvements were being made and the prison had some encouraging plans for the future, although they were still too new to be judged during this inspection.