There was a real prospect of improvement at HMP Haverigg but it still had some way to go, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in west Cumbria.
HMP Haverigg is perhaps the prison service’s most isolated prison. It had weathered the uncertainties of budget cuts, prison closures and new policies better than most prisons. It had maintained its performance, there was a real sense of momentum and realistic plans were in place to tackle some long-term weaknesses. Nevertheless, outcomes for prisoners were still not good enough in some crucial areas.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- most prisoners said they felt safe, significantly more than at the last inspection and more than at comparable prisons;
- support for men at risk of suicide or self-harm was consistently good;
- staff-prisoner relationships were generally very good and mitigated some of the weaknesses in the prison;
- health care had improved;
- most prisoners were out of their cells for a decent amount of time during the day;
- there was a wide range of work, training and education opportunities on offer which were linked to employment prospects in the areas to which most prisoners would return;
- the ‘smokery’ produced and sold smoked food and provided a very realistic working environment; and
- practical resettlement services, such as helping prisoners to find accommodation or a job on release, were generally good.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- a minority of prisoners were subject to gang and debt-related bullying;
- staff supervision was made difficult by the layout of the prison, with many prisoners accommodated in ‘billets’ or huts, poor external lighting and limited CCTV coverage;
- not all incidents of violence were identified or investigated and support for victims was poor;
- the use of segregation had increased, the use of force was high and some incidents were poorly dealt with;
- the prison needed to improve its equality and diversity work and had little idea of the identity and needs of prisoners with protected characteristics;
- there were too few work, training and education places available and allocation processes were inefficient; and
- almost one-third of the population had an out of date or no OASys assessment.
Nick Hardwick said:
“Prisoners who kept their heads down, made the most of the opportunities on offer and whose needs were typical of the prison’s population as a whole would probably do reasonably well at Haverigg. However, those who needed more support or whose needs differed from the majority might have a less positive experience – sometimes to an unacceptable degree. Progress is being made and a positive, experienced staff group have created the foundations for further progress, but some processes need to be significantly improved and managers need to give close attention to ensuring that poor practice is challenged and improved.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:
“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted the progress being made at Haverigg during a period of real change.
“The wide range of work, training and education is helping to rehabilitate and resettle offenders and the Governor and his staff deserve real credit for the continued improvement.
“They will now use the recommendations in the report as part of their ongoing plans for the future.”
A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 29 May 2014: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons