Inspectors “appalled” by treatment of disabled prisoners


Some disabled prisoners were unable to shower for months, according to inspectors who visited a “failing” prison on the Isle of Wight.
Inspectors said they were “appalled” by the treatment of disabled prisoners at Parkhurst prison, and found that diversity work there was “in its infancy”.
One prisoner with a mobility impairment and a health condition had not been able to shower for over a year because there were no baths or showers on the ground floor.
Another, who used a wheelchair, had not had a bath since being discharged from hospital six months before, apparently because the only three staff who volunteered for training to push his wheelchair had been unavailable.
The prison also had no adapted cells, and prisoners with mobility impairments found it difficult to attend the healthcare and education departments or visit the chaplaincy.
Some prisoners who used walking sticks or crutches had not been given cells on the ground floor.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons also found that health services at the prison were “unacceptably weak”.
Dame Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, said Parkhurst needed support to restore “basic levels of safety and decency”.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of the disability charity RADAR, said the report was “truly shocking”.
She added: “Whilst good work has undoubtedly been done in this area, the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice must continue to examine the capacity of our prisons, many of which are ageing buildings, to cope with physically disabled inmates.”
Since 1 April, Parkhurst has been part of Isle of Wight prison. Phil Wheatley, director general of the National Offender Management Service, said Isle of Wight prison’s governor had embarked on a “radical programme of change” with the help of a new senior management team.
Improvements will include new guidance on supporting prisoners who use wheelchairs, and an accessible wing for disabled and “vulnerable” prisoners.