Prisoners were left without heating for weeks during the November cold spell at Leicestershire HMP

A new report highlighting the many problems at HMP Gartree, near Market Harborough, reveals that older prisoners, aged 50 and over, were left without heating for “several weeks” last November in a particularly cold period. The report sets out various “major works” that will require additional investment in the near future.

Other problems at the jail include a lack of wheelchair accessibility in the over-50s wing and a jail-wide problem with inmates facing long and growing waits for mental health help. The report was produced by the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Gartree.

They said: “Major work and further investment is needed from the Prison Service to ensure that the prison is a safe, secure and humane environment for those who live and work within it.”

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The heating problem has been going on for some time. The report states: “Repairs to the heating system do not appear to have solved all the problems.

“As a result, prisoners in the over-50s wing were left without heating for several weeks during a particularly cold period in November 2023.” There was frustration that things were taking a long time to improve.

Chair of the monitoring board, Tim Norman, said: “Fire safety improvements continued slowly during the reporting year and improvements to wing infrastructure were extremely limited. It is a concern to the council that HMP Gartree may not be able to secure sufficient funding to support the major investment required to repair this prison and make it a decent and humane environment for the men who live here.”

On the positive side, the new report found that staff-inmate relationships were “observed to be largely positive” and inmates generally reported feeling safe.

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