Prison sees dramatic fall in violent incidents

HMP Highpoint in Stradishall near Newmarket Picture: ARCHANT

Highpoint prison has been praised for a reduction in the number of violent incidents - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

A prison has been praised for a dramatic fall in violent incidents - but concerns have been raised over maintenance work.

HMP Highpoint's Independent Monitoring Board praised the work of the jail, at Stradishall, in its annual report - saying "every attempt has been made by the governor and staff to keep the prison safe and relatively Covid-free".

It said that "prisoners appear to have adapted well to the Covid regime", despite the fact time out of cells was curtailed to help limit the spread of the virus.

Their report also said that "fair and humane treatment has continued to be a priority in the prison" and that there was a "marked decrease in violent incidents during the reporting year" - from 515 incidents in 2019 to 267 in 2020.

"The decrease in violent incidents, in spite of the frustrations naturally experienced by all during Covid, could be interpreted as a positive reflection on the ethos of the prison," the report said.

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It also raised concerns that maintenance works "are still not being carried out in a timely manner" and requested an urgent review of the Highpoint's works maintenance contract.

While drug misuse has fallen and incidents of self-harm have fallen slightly, from 513 in 2019 to 499 in 2020, the report showed an increase in the use of illegally brewed alcohol.

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However, it said: "A lot of effort has been put into maintaining family contact for prisoners by remote means," with in-cell telephones providing a major step forward in communication when face to face visits by inmates' families have not been possible.

The report also addressed the prison's approach to bullying. 

"Bullied prisoners are supported by staff, and known perpetrators are challenged," it said.

"Where it is deemed appropriate, prisoners are relocated to a different unit within the establishment. Some prisoners choose to self-isolate on the wings through fear of bullying, or debt and drug related issues.

"Whilst it is recognised that this is their choice, they are encouraged to work through their issues, and have access to safer prisons representatives, listeners and the mental health team."

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