Two-thirds of prisoners released from HMP Winchester were categorised as being of ‘no fixed abode’ and half as homeless, according to a prison watchdog. The Independent Monitoring Board reported that the troubled prison had been lifted out of special measures but continued to experience the highest level of violence in its comparator group and the second highest for prisoner-on-prisoner assaults.
‘Over nine months of the last year, 63% of released prisoners have been categorised as having no fixed abode,’ the IMB noted. ‘Even allowing for the fact that this category includes those offered transient accommodation with councils, it still means half of those released were homeless.’ The board called the outcome ‘a real concern’ and a ‘strong cause of reoffending’.
Another key issue highlighted was category B prison’s ‘severely restricted regime’ as a result of Covid which meant that prisoners had ‘only 45 minutes a day out of their cell for just three days per week.’ According to the IMB, 64% of prisoners stated that they spent less than an hour out of cell daily and the watchdog commented that this ‘cannot be regarded as humane.’
The watchdog also found that among the cohort of similar prisons (including Bedford, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Leicester, Peterborough, Preston and Swansea), Winchester had the highest level of prisoner-on-prisoner violence.
Angus Somerville, chair of the IMB, commented that although there had been improvement in areas, including the management of those with mental health issues, the ‘levels of violence, drug use and self-harm exacerbate the strain on safety, creating an underlying volatile atmosphere on the main wings.’
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