An independent body has given its verdict on how prisoners are treated inside Wakefield’s high security prison.
HMP Wakefield – nicknamed Monster Mansion – is home to around 750 Category A prisoners, including some of the country’s most notorious inmates.
In its annual report for 2016/17, the Independent Monitoring Board found the prison was fair and humane but needed to do more to support its ageing population.
Since many of the prisoners are long-term serious offenders, the focus is not on preparing for release but on areas such as acknowledgement of offences and addressing future risks so prisoners can move to lower category facilities.
Speaking ahead of today’s publication of the full report, chairman David Smethurst said a large proportion of the prisoners held there were serious sex offenders.
“The prison has a challenging task, reflecting the nature of the prisoners’ offences, many of which are denied by the offenders, as well as the aged Victorian fabric of much the Prison, and inevitably limited resources.
“However, our report concludes that greater, more specific care is needed for the constantly increasing numbers of elderly prisoners within its ageing population, equivalent to care which would be received outside prison.”
The board said it is also concerned that efforts to provide meaningful and purposeful work for working-age prisoners are frequently frustrated by problems of achieving adequate numbers of training staff, and volumes of contracted work.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “We commend the hardworking staff at HMP Wakefield for their continued efforts to further improve the prison and ensure that it remains a calm and decent environment for prisoners.”
She said that the service also recognised there was more to do to support older prisoners.
“Since the inspection the prison has launched a wellbeing project and set up a multi-agency team to assess the needs of and support available to older prisoners,” she said.
“The Governor will personally monitor progress of these initiatives as the prison strives to improve even further.”