Unreliable plumbing left prison inmates with cold showers, report finds

The Prison Service said refurbishment was underway on shower blocks at Hollesley Bay prison, near Wo

The Prison Service said refurbishment was underway on shower blocks at Hollesley Bay prison, near Woodbridge Pitcure: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Further work is planned to solve plumbing problems at a prison after a report found inmates were taking cold showers.

The Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Hollesley Bay, near Woodbridge, found plumbing in new and old buildings at the jail to be "perennially unreliable".

The Prison Service said work was underway following concerns about water pressure and heat.

The report, covering visits to the open prison during 2018, found inmates were otherwise treated fairly, humanely, and occasionally with notable compassion.

It found a variety of education and practical courses on offer - with about a quarter of the population working outside the gates on temporary licence - leaving preparation for release within the grasp of the majority.

But the report raised concerns that budget constraints prevented improvements to the fabric of the prison, including the showers, kept working for the most part by 'sticking plaster' measures but requiring an overhaul.

The Prison Service said: "We are pleased this report recognises the excellent work being done by staff to create a safe and rehabilitative prison. Two shower blocks have already been refurbished and work will start imminently on a third."

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The board also reported concern that video links were still not in place - forcing some inmates to transfer for indefinite periods to use links at closed prisons - mainly neighbouring category C jail, Warren Hill.

Finally, and not exclusive to Hollesley Bay, the board said those most at risk inside continued to be prisoners with indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPP), whose "indefinite sentences and precarious status" left them with the least incentive to behave and at most risk of drug abuse, self-harm and bad behaviour.

At the time the report was written, Hollesley Bay had about 20 IPP prisoners, who the board wished to see concentrated efforts to re-categorise, making it easier for them to make progress towards their way out of prison.

The Prison Service said: "Prisoners serving public protection sentences were deemed by a judge to pose a high risk of harm to the public. All prisoners who have served their tariff can apply to the independent Parole Board and demonstrate they are no longer a threat to society."

In 2018, 506 IPP prisoners were released in the UK after proving they no longer posed a high risk.