Author Archives: prisonsorguk

HMP & YOI ROCHESTER – Commendable Progress Despite Disruption From A Rescinded Decision To Close The Prison

HMP & YOI Rochester, a training and resettlement prison in Kent holding adult and young adult male prisoners, had shown encouraging progress despite the “significant disruption” of a period in which it was told it would close but was then kept open, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The leadership at Rochester was commended for guiding the prison through this difficult period, coping with the loss of key staff after the closure announcement and some very poor accommodation, with one wing resembling a “derelict building”. HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) announced in March 2017 that Rochester, a large and sprawling site dating back to 1874, would close for complete redevelopment. However, an increase in the national prison population led to a further announcement in July 2017 that the closure would be delayed until 2019. In 2015, inspectors had found that Rochester was failing to deliver acceptable outcomes for prisoners. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the announcement and then delay of closure in 2017 “caused significant disruption and displacement of resources at the prison, and real uncertainty about its future.”

Inspectors returned to Rochester in October and November 2017. Mr Clarke said: “Given the closure notice and ongoing uncertainty about the prison’s future, we were encouraged at this inspection to see progress in some key areas – to the great credit of the governor and his team. More needed to be done to embed and consolidate the progress made, but this had been achieved despite the uncertainties.”

Inspectors found Rochester to be calmer than before, and poor behaviour was being more proactively challenged. Most men said they felt safe. Illegal drugs remained a big problem, and a major challenge, but the prison was better focused on these issues. There had been no deaths in custody since the 2015 inspection.

The prison was assessed as generally respectful, with much improved staff-prisoner relationships and better management of equality and diversity work and complaints. Much of the living accommodation was unacceptable, however, with constant demand for expensive emergency repairs, and C wing at HMP Rochester “resembled a derelict building. Many cells were cramped, grubby, poorly maintained and without decent furniture, and we again found many offensive displays on walls.” The prison had made efforts to mitigate this, including allowing prisoners to paint their cells, but the living environment overall was not suitable and the accommodation needed to be closed.

“HMPPS also appeared to have reached this conclusion with the closure notice earlier last year. Despite the postponement of this decision in July, we would encourage HMPPS to revisit this issue at the very earliest opportunity,” Mr Clarke said.

The prison also suffered from insufficient staff to run a full regime, a problem exacerbated by the loss of a significant number of operational and specialist staff after the initial closure notice. Mr Clarke added: “The governor had

implemented a restricted regime, which meant men at least had a period of reliable time out of cell each day, prioritising attendance at activities.” Despite this, time out of cell overall was insufficient, and many activities were not being run because of staffing shortages. “We found far more men than at the last inspection locked up during the working day with nothing useful to do.”

Mr Clarke said:

“Uncertainty about the prison’s future was having a huge impact on outcomes and well-being at Rochester. The prison was, however, very well led, and had clear and achievable plans to mitigate the impact of the uncertainty and improve areas within the governor’s control. Commendable progress had already been made in this regard. We would encourage whatever support or clarity can be provided to ensure any potential deterioration is avoided.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said:

“Rochester has faced a number of challenges over the past year and I’m pleased that the Inspectorate has noted the progress made by the Governor and his team. A programme of refurbishment has been planned to address the most urgent accommodation issues, along with the recruitment of more staff to create a consistent regime for prisoners. We will continue to work towards addressing the broader issues raised in the report.”

A copy of the full report, published on 15 March 2018, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:

Harmondsworth IRC – Holding large numbers of Detainees with mental health problems in ‘prison like’ conditions.

Harmondsworth immigration removal centre (IRC) at Heathrow, holding large numbers of men with mental health problems in prison-like conditions, continued to show “considerable failings” in safety and respect for detainees, according to prison inspectors. Publishing a report on an inspection in September 2017, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said a 2015 inspection of… Continue Reading

Chair of the UK Torture Prevention Body Calls For Stronger Government Focus on Eradicating Ill-treatment of Detainees

20th February 2018 Following publication of the 8th Annual Report of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), its Chair today urged the UK Government to focus on the prevention of ill treatment in detention by guaranteeing the independence and resources of the NPM. The NPM was established in 2009 by the UK Government to meet its… Continue Reading

HMP Parc Young Persons’ Unit – Chief Inspector welcomes work to reverse recent deterioration in standards

The Young Persons’ Unit at HMP & YOI Parc near Bridgend in South Wales has shown “quite significant improvement’ in key aspects, including safety, in the past year, inspectors found. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said Parc had often received positive inspection results and he welcomed work by the management to turn around… Continue Reading

HMP Usk and HMP & YOI Prescoed – “Still fundamentally successful prisons”

HMP Usk, a small jail specialising in sex offender programmes, and the nearby HMP and YOI Prescoed, an open prison, remained “fundamentally successful” establishments, inspectors found in 2017. The two prisons in south east Wales are distinct establishments three-and-a-half miles apart, but run by the same management team. Usk is a small category C training… Continue Reading

HMP SUDBURY – “We Dont Talk To The Public”

WARNING THE PICTURES LINKED BELOW SHOW GRAPHIC KNIFE INJURIES. By Mark Leech, editor: The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales. The Governor of Sudbury Open Prison refuses to speak with members of the public in general  and the victims of violent crimes in particular whose assailants are locked up in his prison. In May 2014… Continue Reading

“Once again, we found CRCs stretched beyond their capacity”

Inspectors found that staff in Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) did not see offenders often enough while under supervision on two of the most commonly used non-custodial sentences – community orders and suspended sentence orders. This lack of meaningful engagement led to poor decisions in managing breaches of the orders. Though the proportion of community-sentences completed… Continue Reading

Worboys Judicial Review Latest – Court ‘minded to grant permission’

Black-cab rapist John Worboys is appearing in person at the High Court to hear whether the decision to release him will face a legal challenge. He appeared in the dock of Court 5 at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, after Sir Brian Leveson asked for him to be brought from prison. The judge,… Continue Reading