HMP/YOI DRAKE HALL – A Safe, Decent and Purposeful Women’s Prison

drakehallHMP/YOI Drake Hall was a safe and respectful prison, with good work, training and education provision on offer and a focus on rehabilitation, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in Staffordshire.
HMP/YOI Drake Hall was previously inspected in 2013 when inspectors found it was producing reasonable or good outcomes for the women held. This remains the case. This more recent inspection found a safe prison despite some changes in the population. Some women had moved to Drake Hall after HMP Holloway closed and found the relative freedom to move around the site difficult to adjust to. A small number of mainly younger women with more challenging behaviour were causing some difficulties. Staff managed these challenges well and dealt with most conflicts through lower-level interventions. Drake Hall was a respectful prison with good staff-prisoner relationships at its core.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • challenges with drug use and illicit alcohol were well managed and security arrangements were appropriate;
  • force was rarely needed and segregation only used as a last resort;
  • levels of self-harm were lower than in many other women’s prisons and good care was provided to those needing support;
  • staff were clear about their roles, challenging women when needed, supporting them when required and motivating them to engage with the activities and resettlement work of the prison;
  • the prison had recently received the Enabling Environment award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a quality mark to show they promote good relationships and wellbeing;
  • the provision of work, training and education had improved and was now good overall and nearly all women were occupied purposefully and most achieved good outcomes;
  • the focus on resettlement was a strength across the prison, with staff supporting women’s efforts to develop skills for living crime-free lives, and good offender management arrangements; and
  • the new open unit was excellent and provided opportunities for women to further demonstrate a reduction in risk and enhance their employability skills.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • while the new health care provider was adequate overall, there were some notable failings, such as delays in accessing services and the management of medications, which were deficient;
  • some aspects of the work with foreign nationals needed improvement;
  • two older accommodation units, build in 1940, needed to be replaced; and
  • there needed to be more support offered to women who had been abused, victimised or trafficked before coming into prison.

Peter Clarke said:
“This was a very positive inspection of a safe, decent and purposeful prison that was doing well at what it had set out to do, namely to support women in taking steps to become more independent, reduce their risks to others and resettle back into the community. The governor and his staff should be commended for this.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 22 November 2016 at: