England has better Welsh provision than Wales

I finally got round to reading Estyn's Annual report and found this snippet on page 29:

In most prisons that we inspect, there is very little promotion of the Welsh language and offenders continue to have very limited opportunities in Welsh.

However, the women’s prison in Eastwood Park in England that we inspected this year had relatively good provision for prisoners from Wales with Welsh language needs. There were Welsh books in the prison library suitable for a range of reading abilities. The library also had a selection of children’s books in Welsh so that parents could record stories for their children. Prisoners had access to software that translated from English into Welsh, and there was Welsh signage alongside other languages.

Estyn Annual Report 2008-09

At first I wondered if this might be because Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire is a women's prison, and that these—because there are relatively few women in prison—would tend to have better facilities anyway. But most women prisoners from North Wales are held at Styal in Cheshire, which isn't singled out. So it seems that Eastwood Park is doing something right.

In addition to Estyn's criticism of the other prisons, we learned last year that Parc Prison near Bridgend has no bilingual signs or official forms, and not even a Bible in Welsh. This in the biggest prison in Wales.

Perhaps some things will now change because responsibility for education and training in Welsh prisons was transferred from Westminster to Cardiff in May last year. But that still leaves all the other aspects of prison management unaffected, and again makes the case for responsibility for prisons and probation to be devolved.

It is shameful that a prison in England should have better provision for Welsh than any prison in Wales itself.

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Unknown said...

This is obviously a job for FFred (FFransis) - and expert on the workings and iniquities of the prison system! I'm only half joking!

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