INMATES are not being treated humanely because they are locked in a cell for up to 23 hours a day, a report has found.

Inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) say those in Lewes Prison had limited opportunities to spend time in the open air due to regime restrictions during the pandemic.

They found that while there was no spread of Covid-19 to the general prison population and the pandemic restrictions were “justifiable”, inspectors say being locked up in a cell for 23 hours a day is “not humane”.

The board said the prisoners’ reaction to the restrictions was largely one of “tolerance and understanding” but it emphasised that the psychological impact of being locked up every day for such long periods cannot be “overstated”.

It did however praise the governor, Hannah Lane, her team and prison officers for keeping inmates safe during the pandemic.

Selena Bevis, chairwoman of the IMB at Lewes, said: “This has been an extraordinary year and we commend all the prison staff for keeping the prisoners safe as well as fully informed during the pandemic.

“The long-term impact of the restrictions cannot be overstated. We are looking forward to seeing a relaxation of the current regime, and the return of education and work, enabling the prisoners to use their time productively in preparation for release.”

The report highlighted concerns over the “disproportionate” use of force in respect of BAME prisoners.

Statistics from Lewes Prison show that over a seven-month period from April to October 2020, the average Bame population of the prison was over 17 percent yet contributed to 33 percent of the use of force.

The Watchdog also said it was not “humane” that an average of 13 prisoners living in HMP Lewes have no set date for release.

These inmates are subject to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs), which were abolished by the coalition government eight years ago because they were seen to be unfair.