Hello #Plymouth – Last year I challenged the government to improve the conditions at Dartmoor Prison, to ensure the safety of its staff and prisoners. I visited the prison recently to speak with the governor about plans for improving facilities at HMP Dartmoor and discussed ongoing challenges in making sure that the prison is safe for staff and inmates.
In February 2022, I shared my concerns in Parliament following the Independent Monitoring Board’s report stating that regimes and conditions for prisoners at HMP Dartmoor were being compromised by staff shortages and a lack of investment following the closure decision. Alarmingly, it was reported that during staff shortages prisoners would spend 23 hours in their cells, which the IMB branded “inhumane.”
Earlier this year, I asked Dominic Raab MP to spell out investment plans for Dartmoor Prison after the Government’s plans to close it in 2023 were scrapped. Keeping the prison open supports local jobs and means families of inmates don’t need to travel even longer distances. Scrapping the closure decision was a welcome move, but in the meantime the Prison had been neglected and repairs had delayed for years.
It was good to hear from the prison governor that there are plans to improve shower facilities at the prison, as well as other upgrades. There is a real shortage of places in the prison estate and plans to bring a mothballed part of the prison back into use is also welcome. Prison is not just about punishment – it must also be about rehabilitation to stop future offending and help people lead better lives when they leave prison. I was shown the work Dartmoor Prison is doing to support inmates with employment and education, learning valuable skills that support rehabilitation. From my walk around the historic prison I could see how these changes will make a difference in day to day life for the prisoners.
I know many of the prison officers who work at Dartmoor Prison live in Plymouth. I’ve spoken to many of them since being elected in 2017. Poor conditions at Dartmoor Prison are bad for staff and bad for prisoners.
Poor conditions and staff shortages mean the chances of proper rehabilitation are reduced and that’s why I will continue to put pressure on the government to get HMP Dartmoor up to scratch, following years of under investment. I want to thank the Governor and his staff who are working hard to ensure these improvements are sustained.