Cookham Wood concerns grow

Women held at Cookham Wood prison in Rochester, Kent, have been
prevented from contacting their families because of staff
shortages, a report by the Prisons Inspectorate reveals.

Time out of cell for association was often cancelled and prisoners
had been allowed their full period of association for only one
weekday in the three months before inspection, the report says.
Many had been unable to use telephones to contact their

Prison routines should be reviewed to ensure the women receive more
time out of cell, chief prisons inspector Anne Owers said. Also
more staff were needed.

Paul Cavadino, chief executive of rehabilitation agency Nacro,
warned that when vulnerable women are locked in their cells for
excessively long periods because of staff shortages “this can
increase their depression and worsen mental disorders with a
depressive element”.

Owers said that while staff displayed a high level of concern for
the women “neither staff nor prisoners were helped by the lack of
effective systems and procedures to ensure that this was translated
into actual outcomes”.

The prison, along with the rest of the women’s estate, had been
under pressure in the past year with an increase in the needs of
prisoners, the report says. The systems in place were not robust
enough to protect the safety of the more vulnerable women it was
now receiving.

It also highlights concerns about the safeguards for young adult
women aged 18-21 who are held on the same wing as adult offenders
and recommends much closer supervision.

– Report from:

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