Significant fall in violence and use of synthetic drugs at Fazakerley prison say monitors 

  • 06 Nov 2017 06:00
Read our response to a report published by independent monitors at G4S-managed HM Prison Altcourse in Liverpool  
Prison, My parents and me

A report published today by independent monitors at G4S-managed HM Prison Altcourse in Liverpool says the facility has seen a “significant reduction” in violence and use of new psychoactive substances while providing a “seamless approach to continuity of care”.

In their annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), found that violent incidents at the prison in Fazakerley fell eight per cent in the six months from January to June 2017, when compared with the previous six months, July to December 2016. Assaults on staff declined 15 per cent in the same period. 

Monitors commended the development of a more proactive approach to violent incidents by targeting known violent prisoners. 

The report highlights improvements made to the admissions process, including making the building “brighter and more welcoming” and by providing hot meals for prisoners on arrival regardless of the time of day. This combined with the restructure of safer custody to allow admission, induction and healthcare to work more closely, has created “a seamless approach to continuity of care”, monitors say. 

The stability of the establishment has improved with attention on security. There has been a focus on improving the knowledge and understanding of organised crime groups and street gangs. A Gang Liaison Officer has been appointed to engage with prisoners associated with gangs both inside and outside the prison. 

Director of HM Prison Altcourse, Steve Williams, said:  

“Like prisons across the country, we have seen criminals targeting our establishment with drugs and mobile phones. The report recognises the sophisticated steps we have taken to tackle this threat and the work we are doing to find a solution to reducing the influence that gangs and crime groups may have on some prisoners.”

“Each day, 98 per cent of the men we look after are involved in purposeful activity  in training and education, to give them the skills they need to turn away from crime. Supporting relationships with families is also key to breaking the vicious cycle of reoffending, which is why we have improved our visits centre to be more family focused and increased the number of family days we offer. 

“We will look carefully at the recommendations made and will continue to work with partners in the community and the Ministry of Justice to make further progress.”  

The report applauds the prisons partnership with social-enterprise Recycling Lives, who have introduced a welding academy for prisoners, with the opportunity of employment on release. 

The academy, which opened in June, sees prisoners fabricating and repairing skips and bins and two former prisoners from Altcourse have already taken up employment with the company since the scheme began. 

CSR and Sustainability Director for Recycling Lives, Alasdair Jackson, said: 
“We have run our HMP Academies programme in prisons across the North of England for five years, operating recycling workshops, but this is our first Academy undertaking fabrication and welding work.

“The ethos of Recycling Lives is to harness the talent and skills of those who society often overlooks and we know from experience of working in prisons that there is a large pool of talent at Altcourse.

“This is a great step for us and the prison and I know that for the offenders the effect will be transformational.”