Prisons inspector Anne Owers found a cramped site, poor
accommodation and no clear strategy when she visited resettlement
institution Latchmere House, writes Clare
Latchmere House takes Category D prisoners for 12 months from
their first parole date, and they are allowed weekend home leaves
and the chance to work outside prison. It is located on the
outskirts of London, close to the homes of many of the prisoners,
making it ideally located for resettlement purposes.
But in a Prison Inspectorate report, the chief inspector of
prisons found it lacking suitable and decent accommodation. The
dormitories had no in-cell electricity and some had leaking roofs.
The site is also cramped with little room for leisure
More importantly, Owers found no clear resettlement policy. The
regime meant prisoners could not access work opportunities until
three months into their 12-month stay. Instead, inmates were given
jobs in-house, and these placements were often extended due to a
shortage of prison officers.
At any time 60 per cent of prisoners were unable to work
outside, and they were bored and frustrated.
“These frustrations could however, have been considerably
reduced if this period had been used for constructive resettlement
work,” Owers said.
“Latchmere House is a considerable resource: a resettlement
prison in the right location, with a good ethos and considerable
success in providing employment opportunities,” Owers said.
“With commitment and investment from the prison service, and a
more strategic approach from the prison, it should be able to
become a key part of the prison service’s resettlement
strategy,” she added.
The report urges the prison to devote more attention to develop
a positive and proactive resettlement role during the first
three-month period. There should also be substantial improvements
in the “unacceptable physical conditions” in which prisoners