Memorandum submitted by the Board of Visitors,
HM Prison, Blantyre House
Further to the Board's earlier letter regarding
the progress that has been made at Blantyre House since last year,
we would like to voice our concerns about some points in the Resettlement
PSO which appear to have an adverse affect on the regime at Blantyre.
We hope that this is in order.
RESETTLEMENT PRISON SERVICE ORDER 2300
The Board of Visitors at HMP Blantyre House
welcome the publication of the long awaited Prison Service Order
on Resettlement. There are bound to be some "teething troubles"
as the PSO is implemented but it will hopefully help to establish
a successful Resettlement Regime throughout the Prison Service.
There are already a number of points that are
causing concern. The main one is that Stage One prisoners are
only allowed out for 12 hours per week. This applies to those
eligible for Facility Licence and is inclusive of any ECV (earned
community visit) which itself could use up all the weekly allowance.
At Blantyre House, Stage One prisoners work
with the Project Party and then do Community Work as preparation
for progressing to paid work when they reach Stage Two. The Project
Party undertake supervised work helping with projects that are
of benefit to the local community such as redecoration and refurbishment
of village halls, community centres, schools etc.
The current practice of prisoners going out
on licence will no longer be able to operate and it may be necessary
to stop the Project Party. Community Work involves men working
on their own or in a small group and giving help where needed
within the local community. With only 12 hours available the current
schemes in operation will have to be phased outwill they
ever be restarted? Will it be possible to find community work
placements that can take a different prisoner each day of the
week? Most unlikely.
It has taken many years to build up the excellent
relationship that Blantyre House has with the local community
and this is due to the Prison playing an active part within that
community. It is important that this relationship is not jeopardised
now by the loss of either the Project Party or of those doing
The 12 hour restriction also affects the prison
van which is driven by selected Stage One prisoners. The van takes
the prisoners to and from work, to and from the railway station
and is in constant use from early morning until late at night.
The number of drivers required to drive it without breaking the
12 hour per week maximum will prove impossible to meet and the
current system will not be able to continue operating. There is
no local bus service and it is essential to get the prisoners
out to their work placements.
The 12 hour restriction also means that prisoners
will spend more hours inside Blantyre House which should be an
excellent opportunity for them to take advantage of the Education
Department. Unfortunately the proposed cuts to the Education Department
will actually restrict access at a time when it is most needed.
Another cause for concern relates to chapter
7 page 457.20. " In Stage 2, once past their resettlement
ROTL eligibility date, prisoners who do not hold a current full
driving licence . . . will be eligible for consideration for applying
for a provisional driving licence, taking lessons and a test."
Resettlement leave entitlement date is eight weeks prior to PED
if parole decision is acceptable or six months after PED if the
decision is adverse. If parole is achieved initially eight weeks
is insufficient time for a prisoner to successfully pass his driving
test. It is unusual for prisoners at Blantyre to receive a "Knockback"
and therefore the six months after PED will seldom apply.
We have an overriding concern that ,whereas
the new resettlement regimes will at first require both tight
and limiting rules during the establishments' learning curve such
limiting restrictions should not have an adverse impact on the
very low re-offending rates that have been achieved by Blantyre
We do however note that in Annex 7a, para 1.3
that there is authority provided for "Exceptions" to
these National Requirements for Resettlement Regimes, and we ask
for your support in this regard. We shall be writing to the Director
General seeking his reassurance that these powers will be implemented
by his Area/Operational Managers in all cases where it is foreseeable
that the detail Requirements will diminish the standard, effectiveness
and economics of existing Resettlement Regimes.
We believe most strongly that Area Managers'
confidence in applying the rules will benefit greatly from the
Director General issuing clear and encouraging guide-lines on
the implementation of "Exceptions".