HM Prison Parc

Part of 3. Topical Questions – in the Senedd at 3:20 pm on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Sarah Murphy Sarah Murphy Labour 3:20, 15 May 2024

Thank you, Llywydd, for granting this topical question today. As the Member for Bridgend, I'm obviously getting a lot of constituents who are getting in touch with me, and I also want to refer to Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore, who put in an urgent question in Westminster as well this week. My thoughts are, of course, with the inmates who are no longer with us and with their families. Every death is a tragedy, regardless of the circumstances, and I would also like to thank Heather Whitehead, the governor of Parc, for engaging with me over the recent months as the deaths have, sadly, increased.

The UK Minister made reference in his speech to the spice in the prison and questions around naloxone, which is needed, obviously, in those very desperate circumstances to prevent tragedy. There are also concerns within the Bridgend community that the prison is a catalyst for spice, because it is being transferred in and out of the prison. So, Cabinet Secretary, can you expand on the work that is being done with the MoJ, Public Health Wales officials and Bridgend County Borough Council intervention teams to bring some sort of control of the drug abuse taking place inside and outside the prison?

I also want to pay tribute to the prison staff. They are working in what are extremely difficult circumstances. Issues around staff-to-prisoner ratios have still not been dealt with, and it is vital that we ensure that prison officers who are having to deal with the deaths over the past nine to 10 weeks are receiving the mental health support that they so desperately need. I would just like to say that there is a lot of speculation, accusations and abuse of those prison staff online. They are unable to comment or say anything back, but I believe that it is really making things very difficult for them.

Finally, can the Cabinet Secretary expand on any work that is being done with our health board, Cwm Taf Morgannwg? I have had some constructive meetings with the health providers over recent weeks, but there does appear to be a disconnect between the reality on the ground in the prison and what the Ministry of Justice seems to be saying. I would be grateful for any update that you can give, really, to bring some calm to the situation, as my colleague Chris Elmore MP also asked for in Westminster, to the prison estate and also to the wider Bridgend community. Diolch.