November 28, 2020

Concerns and recommendations in latest Report on Inspection of HM Cayman Islands Prison Service

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Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

The following are extracts with the concerns and the complete list of recommendations contained in the HM Cayman Islands Prison Service Report 22-27 July 2012 executed by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

“Any reader of this report should be troubled and concerned by what we found, particularly given that the prisons operated in the name of Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Whatever one’s view of the role of imprisonment in tackling crime and delinquency, most right-thinking people would expect prisons that operate in their name to hold prisoners safely and decently, and to ensure they leave as better people than when they came in. Northward and Fairbanks fall well short of this standard. The report’s findings confirm my view that all custodial facilities need to be subject to regular independent inspection to ensure even the most basic human rights standards are upheld and meaningful accountability maintained. The absence of such arrangements in the Cayman Islands was a significant factor in the very poor conditions we found in this one-off inspection. We have offered a number of recommendations that we believe will assist the Cayman authorities to create improvement and reduce the risk of such failings from reoccurring in future.”

Nick Hardwick September 2012, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Northward was not a safe prison but the situation at Fairbanks was better. Reception processes at both prisons were satisfactory but meaningful assessment and risk management were not addressed. Prisoners at Northward did not feel safe and many felt victimised both by staff and other prisoners. Prisoners at Fairbanks felt safe.

Measures to address violence and bullying at both prisons were reactive and crude.

images-2Support for the vulnerable or those at risk of self-harm was inadequate. Male juvenile prisoners were at serious risk of harm. Security arrangements were poor. Illegal drug use was endemic at Northward. The segregation of prisoners in basic cells lacked any legitimate authority and their treatment was appalling. Outcomes for prisoners at Northward were poor and not sufficiently good at Fairbanks.

The physical structure and perimeter at both prisons were poor and not sufficiently secure. There was minimal security-related intelligence, which was mostly anecdotal and not adequately recorded or analysed to identify potential threats to the establishment or to identify any emerging issues.

images-1Dynamic security* was poor, with little positive interaction between staff and prisoners. There were high levels of illegal drugs at Northward. Many prisoners said that it was easy to get illegal drugs and alcohol into the prison and there were high numbers of drug finds. However, the prison took no action to prevent the ingress of drugs and undertook no targeted drug testing of prisoners suspected of being involved with drugs, with testing carried out almost entirely for parole or compliance reasons. There was minimal drug testing at Fairbanks and the positive rate was zero. The positive drug test rate at Northward was high, at around 28%, and exclusively for cannabis.

* Dynamic security is the active awareness by prison staff of prisoners’ activities and behaviours that may contribute to or compromise safety and security. This ‘soft’ intelligence supports security systems in promoting and providing a secure environment.

The number of disciplinary adjudications held at Northward was low and there were no data available for Fairbanks. There was insufficient evidence of inquiry, wide disparities in punishments for similar offences and the quality of adjudication paperwork was generally poor. Prison staff were able to increase sentence length, which was unacceptable given the need to separate sentencing and custodial functions.

Force was used on prisoners without appropriate authority, recording or monitoring. Staff training in use of force had ceased and many staff were untrained or their qualifications had expired.

The number of prisoners held on the basic unit and in the ‘housing’ unit (own protection) at Northward was high. Prisoners were segregated and held in basic cells without legitimate authority or senior management oversight. Prisoners could be, and were, held in segregation for long and indeterminate periods without review and without any plans to reintegrate them back into the general population. The environment was appalling. Cells were poorly equipped, dilapidated and had inadequate light and ventilation. Two of the occupied cells had no light fittings, leaving the prisoners in almost perpetual darkness. The prisoners held in them had no mattresses, bedding or changes of clothes. The regime was poor, with no access to telephones and daily access to only exercise and showers.

High numbers of prisoners arrived at Northward with either drug or alcohol problems and our survey showed that a further 13% developed a problem while in prison. In spite of this, there was no provision for prisoners with drug or alcohol misuse issues to receive clinical treatment.

Children and young adults shared accommodation with adult prisoners. The regime was not specific to the needs of juveniles and young adult prisoners. We found evidence of male juveniles put at risk of predatory sexual behaviour and recruitment into gangs.

Main concerns and recommendations


HP50 Concern: The findings in this report raise some significant human rights concerns. The Optional Protocol for the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) does not apply in the Cayman Islands, which means that areas of detention on the islands are not subject to regular independent monitoring.

Recommendation: The United Kingdom should extend OPCAT to the Cayman Islands.

HP51 Concern: Prisoners at Northward did not feel safe. Nearly three-quarters said that they had felt unsafe at some time and almost half that they felt unsafe at the time of the survey. They reported high levels of victimisation from other prisoners and staff. No attempt was made to identify, analyse or measure the levels of violence or extent of victimisation and bullying in order to reduce levels of violence and improve safety.

Recommendation: The prison should develop a violence reduction strategy.

Incidents of violence, bullying and intimidatory behaviour should be recorded, collated and analysed to identify trends and hot spots. Action should be taken to reduce violence and bullying. Victims should be supported and perpetrators monitored and challenged. Prisoners should be regularly consulted on their perceptions of safety and managers should actively promote a climate and culture in which violence and victimisation are not tolerated.

HP52 Concern: Illegal drug availability and use were rife in Northward. Nothing was done to prevent drugs coming into the prison, and there was no random drug testing or target testing of those suspected of being involved in drugs, and no clinical treatment available for drug users.

Recommendation: A comprehensive, prison-specific drug strategy should be developed and implemented. This should include the use of intelligence to identify areas of concern, measures to reduce supply, robust drug testing arrangements and the provision of clinical treatment for prisoners with drug misuse issues.

HP53 Concern: Prisoners on the basic unit or housed for their own protection on A wing at Northward, including those with serious mental health issues and at risk of suicide or self-harm, were segregated and held in wretched conditions, with minimal regime. The process to place prisoners on basic was unregulated, with no senior manager approval or oversight, and no comprehensive recording, monitoring or case management to plan for reintegration.

Recommendation: The use of basic and ‘housing’ for own protection should cease immediately and be replaced by a regulated, risk-assessed and controlled system of segregation in suitably equipped cellular accommodation with access to a suitable regime. Prisoners should be individually case managed and, where possible, plans made and implemented for reintegration into the main population.

HP54 Concern: Accommodation wings and cells at Northward were barely fit for human habitation. Facilities were unbearably hot and often filthy, dark and oppressive. There was no privacy and most cells were overcrowded. The general fabric of the environment was very poor, with water ingress and vermin infestation. Facilities at Fairbanks were only marginally better.

Recommendation: Many of the current facilities at both Northward and Fairbanks should be demolished and the rest should undergo complete renovation. New prisoner accommodation should be developed that provides safe and secure accommodation commensurate with internationally accepted minimum standards.

HP55 Concern: There was no transparency or consistency in the way that staff responded to prisoner need. The legitimacy of procedures and decisions was constantly undermined by the unregulated and often illegitimate exercise of staff discretion. Staff often did not do what was required of them; prisoners had no effective means of redress and managers failed in their responsibility to supervise. The potential for the abuse of power was pervasive.

Recommendation: The prison should develop clear, transparent operating procedures concerning daily routines and arrangements directly relevant to the daily lives of prisoners. Training should be introduced to support staff in the delivery of their responsibilities. Particular attention should be paid to the role and responsibilities of managers at all levels. Meaningful management checks should be introduced to ensure that, on a daily basis, all members of staff, at all levels, are accountable for their actions and deliver their remit consistently and fairly.

HP56 Concern: Prisoners on the high-risk unit (HRU) were subject to excessively controlled and restrictive conditions. Allocation to the unit lacked authority and effective approval, and prisoners remained on the unit for many years without any effective monitoring, assessment, review or means of challenge.

Recommendation: Prisoners on the HRU should be subject to an initial full risk assessment to determine whether they need such a controlled and restrictive environment. They should be given reasons for their allocation, and be subject to regular multidisciplinary reviews and assessments regarding the necessity of their continuing stay. Plans should be made for their reintegration into the main population. A full regime should be provided on the unit, including education, training and association.

HP57 Concern: Male juveniles were accommodated in the same wings as adults. They were at serious risk of abuse, including sexual predation and gang recruitment. They had no access to activities or a regime suitable for their age.

Recommendation: Juveniles should be protected from abuse and bullying, and as a minimum should not be accommodated on the same wing as adult prisoners. Activities should be specific to their needs and include education and a focus on rehabilitation.

HP58 Concern: The health needs of prisoners at both Northward and Fairbanks were poorly served. The lack of a health needs assessment to determine need, coupled with a severe lack of health services staff, the absence of any governance, particularly in the area of medicines management, and inadequate mental health services resulted in a derisory service.

Recommendation: There should be a formal arrangement with the Health Services Authority (HSA) to ensure that prisoners receive health services that are equivalent to those provided in the HSA community clinics. There should be an annual needs assessment. There should be enough nurses, doctors and administration staff, with the right skills, to ensure that prisoners’ physical and mental health needs can be assessed and treated as appropriate, in a timely manner. The premises should be clean and tidy, meet infection control standards and have the right equipment in them.

HP59 Concern: Most prisoners were unoccupied during the day. The education, training and work needs of prisoners had not been assessed and did not inform delivery. There were insufficient work, training and education places, and even these were underused.

Recommendation: The number, range and duration of meaningful activity places in education, training and work should be increased, based on a comprehensive needs assessment. Prisoners should be allocated to activity according to their needs and should be required to attend.

NOTE: Photos attached showing inside prisons are not the subject of the above report

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