Kirkham Prison management slammed for failing to crack down on drugs

Prison officers claim drug offences inside HMP Kirkham are not being tackled strongly enough by senior management, according to a damning report by independent monitors.

By Brian Ellis
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:55 am

And staff have also raised concerns that the wrong type of inmates are being sent to Kirkham, leading to a fall in the standard of behaviour inside the open prison.

The allegations are contained in the annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for the year 2021.

The IMB also slams the senior management team and the senior management for "not operating in a cohesive manner." But it says the forthcoming appointment of a new Governor "will go some way to addressing the issue."

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Kirkham is said to have too many inmates who should not be in an open prison.

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Absconders still an issue at HMP Kirkham after series of criminals go on the run

The report makes unpleasant reading for prison bosses after a difficult year dealing with the Covid pandemic.

Statistics show 16 inmates absconded from Kirkham. In addition there were 19 inmates who failed to return on time from outside working - two of those being arrested for committing further offences while outside.

On the serious issue of drugs in prison, the report shows there were 279 drug finds in the prison during 2021 - just two less than the previous year.

Kirkham Prison is accused of not being tough enough on drug offenders.

"Levels of drug use and drug drops were still high," says the IMB, despite the improvement in CCTV and more patrols by Lancashire Police.

"The Board receives feedback from some members of staff regarding drug use, who feel insufficient corrective action is being taken by senior management.

"There are also concerns regarding the behaviour of some prisoners not adhering to the regime and displaying behaviour well below the standard expected in an open prison.

"The Board also had the same concerns, especially regarding the calibre of prisoners being sent to Kirkham."

In its report the IMB has sent messages to the Justice Minister, the Prison Service and the Governor highlighting "areas for development" at Kirkham.

The message to the Government says: "Despite assurances for the last four years from the Minister that the categorisation of prisoners was being correctly carried out, there are still many individuals who are unsuitable for transfer to a Category D establishment being sent to Kirkham."

And it adds that during the year 149 prisoners were returned to closed establishments, many due to mainly drug issues which involved dealing, debts and assaults.

To the Prison Service, the Board says that despite the building improvements going on at Kirkham, "more still needs to be done."

And to the Governor it says: "There is an urgent need to fully implement the abscond and drugs strategies to improve stability within the establishment."

Other statistics in the report show that there were 12 reports of violence - three of them against prison officers. There were 271 drug finds, 271 phone finds, four weapons and 22 alcohol finds.

In total there were 23 claims of discrimination, but "only three were completed in the required timescale, which is unacceptable."

More than 40 inmates were allowed out to work off-site and 60 were given overnight release over the Christmas weekend. Also 70 per cent of all prisoners had been fully vaccinated against Covid.

On the positive front the report says the prison, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, treated its inmates "fairly and humanely." Living conditions were rated as good and meals were given an "excellent" rating.