Aylesbury Prison report: violence, staff attacks and accusations of bullying

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) have released their damning verdict on the situation at HMP YOI Aylesbury.
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) have released their damning verdict on the situation at HMP YOI Aylesbury.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) have released their damning verdict on the situation at HMP YOI Aylesbury.

The report raises concerns about: the recruitment and retention of staff; the lack of purposeful activity; poor maintenance; and the length of time prisoners spend in segregation awaiting transfer.

The Ministry of Justice announced in February 2019 that HM YOI Aylesbury was being placed in Special Measures for performance reasons and to compound matters, in July it was given the lowest possible rating for performance.

Michael Brimicombe, Vice-Chair IMB Aylesbury said: "Prisons make headlines, whether it concerns drugs, escape, violence, or bullying.

"HMP YOI Aylesbury is not immune from these problems.

"We are the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP YOI Aylesbury.

"Every prison in England and Wales has an IMB, made up of local people appointed by the Minister. We monitor to ensure that people in custody are treated fairly and humanely.

"We operate independently of the Prison Services, and have unrestricted access. We report our findings to the Ministry of Justice or the Home Office."

The main areas of concern (and improvement) raised in the report were:

-the number of serious assaults on staff has fallen by a factor of ten

-the average prisoner spends a third of their working day locked in their cell

-the number of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults have more than doubled

-almost a half of basic grade prison officers have less than one year's experience

The figures however, do not look good for the beleaguered prison.

The report describes the prison as 'visibly decaying' and lays the blame of this at Carillion - the privatised company who dealt with facilities and construction at the prison.

It said "their tactic of delay and obfuscation affected the prison badly', with Government cuts 'adding fuel to the fire' as the prison degraded.

Carillion collapsed in 2018 after it was overwhelmed with financial trouble.

Incidents of self harm in the prison has seen a sharp rise. There were 258 incidents of self harm from 2018-2019, up from 170 during 2017-2018.

There was also a huge rise in prisoner on prisoner assaults, 372 vs 161 the previous year.

Prisoner on staff assaults also saw an increase; 105 vs 61 the previous year.

The report said damningly, since the last report, the prison had become a 'more violent place'.

The report lays the blame of this at poor staffing levels in the prison.

There were also several instances of 'staff bullying prisoners'.

The report says: ""We did receive a number of complaints about matters of bullying by staff.

"These were unproven. In some cases, the video evidence refuted the claims, but in others the Board was disappointed to discover that body worn video cameras were not operating."

Aylesbury Young Offender Institution also kept some inmates in its segregation unit for up to three months at a stretch.

The practice raised “significant concerns for their mental and physical wellbeing”, said independent monitors.