Author Archives: prisonsorguk

Morton Hall IRC – Well Run But Some Concerns & Challenges

IRC_Morton_Hall_entrance

Morton Hall immigration removal centre was working well to prepare detainees for removal or release, but safety had declined, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the immigration removal centre (IRC) near Lincoln.
Morton Hall had previously been a women’s prison until May 2011 when it was re-roled to become an IRC. It was last inspected in March 2013. This more recent inspection found that the IRC was generally well run, with good provision of activities for the detainees and an impressive focus on welfare and preparing men for release or removal. This was particularly impressive given the high levels of frustration felt by many detainees, fuelled by the fact that many of them had spent a considerable time in detention and for many there was no clear pathway towards release. Delays in casework created some of the frustration. In these circumstances, it was to the credit of leadership and staff that relationships between staff and detainees remained generally strong. However, there had been a significant decline in safety since the last inspection in 2013.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
staff engaged effectively with some very frustrated detainees and maintained good relationships overall;

  • detainees had reasonable access to activities and facilities were good;
  • there was a range of education provision and teaching and learning were good, and there was enough work for the population; and
  • welfare staff provided a valuable service and work to prepare men for release or removal was better than elsewhere.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • levels of violence and antisocial behaviour had risen and the IRC needed to do more to understand the causes to enable it to take a more active approach;
  • there had been a self-inflicted death since the last inspection in 2013 and another man has died since this inspection;
  • self-harm had risen threefold, and the causes had not been sufficiently analysed to inform a strategy to reduce it;
  • too many detainees were held for prolonged periods – 31 for over a year – and the average length of detention was also high at over three months; and
  • Morton Hall had suffered the impact of new psychoactive substances becoming available.

The IRC looks and feels like a prison, with a great deal of razor wire in evidence to prevent access to roof areas. While it might not be feasible to change this in the immediate future, it should be a longer-term aspiration so that the environment can more properly reflect the principles of immigration detention.

Peter Clarke said:
“The very real challenges faced by this IRC should not be allowed to overshadow the commitment and skill of the staff who clearly had the interests of the detainees at the forefront of their minds. We saw many examples of extremely positive interactions between staff and detainees, professional de-escalation of potentially violent incidents and creditable patience in the face of the anger and frustration of the detainees.

“The challenge for Morton Hall is to halt the decline in safety and secure the investment needed to prevent any further deterioration in the condition of the residential units. The inevitable wear and tear of ageing facilities had been exacerbated in many places by vandalism and graffiti. Poor physical conditions will do nothing to lessen the frustration felt by many of the detainees when faced, in many cases, with indeterminate uncertainty about their future.”

A copy of the full report, published on 21 March, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP Featherstone: Serious Decline

Standards have declined at HMP Featherstone, and the decline in safety was particularly concerning, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison near Wolverhampton. HMP Featherstone holds around 650 men and was last inspected in 2013. At that time, inspectors reported generally positively… Continue Reading

Community Sentences are not being delivered properly says HMI Probation

Rehabilitation activity requirements (RARs), a central feature of many community sentences, are not being delivered properly, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. These flexible provisions in community sentences enable probation providers to do whatever they think will work best with individuals to reduce their reoffending, but all too often, too little is… Continue Reading

Prison Ombudsman upholds complaints from young offenders about excessive use of force by staff

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman upheld seven complaints about the use of force in youth jails in five-and-a-half years and recommended disciplinary action in two cases. . Between April 2011 and October last year, the PPO received 43 complaints from those aged under 21 about staff behaviour, including 21 about the use of force. A bulletin… Continue Reading

Pay Rise For Prison Officers In Bid To Tackle Jail Safety Crisis

Prison officers at 31 jails in London and south-east England are in line for pay rises of up to £5,000, under a £12m package announced by the government. The increase means new starters could receive up to £29,500 a year. Ministers said they wanted to attract the “best talent”. Prisons with recruitment issues are being… Continue Reading

HMP Wymott – A reasonably safe prison doing good rehabilitation work

HMP Wymott remained reasonably safe and was doing good work to rehabilitate prisoners and to reduce the risk of reoffending, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in Lancashire. HMP Wymott holds over 1,100 prisoners, approximately half of whom have been convicted… Continue Reading

Marine Serving Life For Murdering Afghan Fighter Challenges Conviction

A Royal Marine serving life after being found guilty of murdering an injured Afghan fighter challenges his conviction today. Five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London will review the case of Sergeant Alexander Blackman. Blackman, of Taunton in Somerset, will watch proceedings via video link from prison. His wife Claire and dozens… Continue Reading

HMP Exeter: A Prison In Decline Due To Staff Shortages

There were not enough staff at HMP Exeter and safety had declined, as had work to rehabilitate prisoners, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Current staff should, however, be praised for their efforts, he added. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the local prison in Devon. HMP Exeter held 490… Continue Reading

HMP Leyhill: A Safe & Decent Open Prison, But Prisoners Are Not Being Discharged By A Lack of Approved Premises

HMP Leyhill was a safe and decent prison which helped to prepare prisoners for release, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons – but where he also found untrained, unsupervised, prisoners were expected to mentor other prisoners, where there were problems with the release on temporary licence system (ROTL) and where a lack of approved… Continue Reading

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