Staff shortages are having a negative impact on standards for inmates at Whatton Prison, an independent board has found.
The category C prison, which holds male sex offenders, was also found to have “unfit for purpose” healthcare facilities.
The findings are published in a report released this week by the Independent Monitoring Board for Whatton Prison.
It found staffing issues had led to “a reduction of time-out-of-cell” and the closure of the library and gym facilities, while tying resources up to carry out hospital visits and supervisory duties over an older population meant less time for quality contact between prisoners and officers. This level of pressure for staff is “unsustainable”, the report claimed.
A spokesman for the IMB added: “The board accepts that the Prison Service is under stress and Whatton is no exception to this. However, staffing issues and limited regime have resulted in prisoners sometimes being kept in their cells for longer than the board considers is acceptable.”
Healthcare facilities, particularly mental health services, were heavily criticised by the board.
The spokesman said: “The healthcare facilities at Whatton remain unfit for purpose and the board has, once again, asked the Prison Service to give urgent and serious consideration to their overhaul or replacement, as well as the provision of extra resourcing to deal with the social care of elderly prisoners.
“The board have expressed their concerns regarding the efficiency of the healthcare services being provided by the newly appointed healthcare contractors. There have been several complaints from prisoners about the level of service.
“The IMB are especially concerned about the reduction of mental health services because of a lack of trained staff being recruited.”
Despite the criticisms, the board said prisoners were “treated with fairness and decency” and commended prison staff and the senior leadership team and the staff on their “smooth running of the prison despite the continuing resourcing issues”.
The Prison Service declined to comment on the specific issues of healthcare facilities and closure of the library and gym.
Instead, a statement read: “HMP Whatton is the first closed prison to receive an outstanding Ofsted inspection and we are pleased that the board have recognised the work of the prison’s leadership to improve education and make that happen.
“The prison continues to drive forward further improvements such as addressing its purposeful activity programme and working to boost staffing and allocate resources accordingly across the prison.”