Cost issues of ageing prison population spelled out in North Sea Camp watchdog report

THE costs associated with an ageing population at HMP North Sea Camp may cause financial issues in resettling inmates into the community, the prison watchdog has warned.

Healthcare requirements and adaptations for disabled prisoners could take a chunk out of the already diminishing budget at the open prison, leaving less to aid programmes to help rehabilitate prisoners into the community.

Coupled with high unemployment levels in the local area, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) fears it will become increasingly difficult to re-integrate people into the community as time goes by.

In its annual report into the prison, the IMB said: “Demands on the budget, when management is being asked to reduce overall spending and staff time will make it difficult to support and sustain the desired resettlement programmes that facilitate the re-integration of prisoners into their local community.”

The amount of ageing prisoners in North Sea Camp, which has capacity for 378 people, has increased in recent years because of a rise in the number of long-serving inmates and those doing indeterminate sentences.

As a result of the increasing age, there are also more prisoners with disabilities at the site, and the IMB raised concerns that the prison was not always set-up to deal with the needs of those using wheelchairs.

The report stated: “Whilst wheelchair users are assigned a buddy to assist them in getting about, not all the facilities available are accessible, and wheelchair storage in the prisoner’s room is inadequate.”

Other issues were also raised with the prisoners’ rooms, which were described as ‘cramped, with insufficient storage space and in need of refurbishment’.

On a positive note, the IMB reported vast improvements in the number of prisoners enrolling for education in the past year, possibly as a result of considerable changes to the education programme.

Community engagement, volunteer and work placements were also praised.

The prison governor was unavailable to comment on the report.