Category Archives: HM Prisons Inspectorate

HMP & YOI ROCHESTER – Commendable Progress Despite Disruption From A Rescinded Decision To Close The Prison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

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

Inspectorate warns of links to organised crime at Lindholme

Inmates with gang connections are determined to carry on “plying their trade” behind bars, a watchdog has warned. HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) flagged up the impact of holding hundreds of men with links to organised crime in the same establishment. An inspection report found drugs and violence were rife at HMP Lindholme in South Yorkshire.… Continue Reading

HMYOI Cookham Wood: Violence and self-harm have increased at a youth jail

In the year since the last inspection of HMYOI Cookham Wood in September 2016, when a total of 54 recommendations were made (below), 16 had been implemented by the time of this inspection. An Implementation rate of 30%. Safety: 15 recommendations made, 7 implemented. Respect: 20 recommendations made, 4 implemented. Purposeful Activity: 8 recommendations made, 2 implemented.… Continue Reading

HMP SWANSEA: “Grudging acceptance of change or passive resistance will not suffice” to address complacency and inexcusable safer custody failures, says Chief Inspector

Background: In the three years since the last inspection of HMP Swansea in October 2014, when a total of 58 recommendations were made, just 8 had been implemented by the time of this inspection. An Implementation rate of just 14%. Safety: 17 recommendations made, 2 implemented. Respect: 20 recommendations made, 5 implemented. Purposeful Activity: 11… Continue Reading

HMP DARTMOOR – Prison with 70% sex offenders: “Shocking Failings in Public Protection” says Chief Inspector

Dartmoor, one of Britain’s oldest jails and home to hundreds of sex offenders, needs help from the prison service to improve “shocking” failings in its work to protect the public from the risk posed by men it releases, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. The number of sex offenders had doubled over… Continue Reading

HMP Wormwood Scrubs – iconic jail suffering persistent and intractable failings

Wormwood Scrubs, the iconic West London jail, was found to be suffering from persistent and intractable failings, including high violence, drugs, chronic staff shortages and poor public protection work, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). The jail, holding more than 1,200 men, has been inspected three times in the last three-and-a-half… Continue Reading

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons welcomes new ‘Urgent Notification’ agreement with potential to strengthen the impact of inspections in failing jails

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, has welcomed a new process allowing him to publicly demand urgent action by the Secretary of State for Justice to improve jails with significant problems – a move also welcomed by one of the Inspectorate’s fiercest critics, Mark Leech. Commenting after the Secretary of State for Justice David… Continue Reading