HMP & YOI CARDIFF – ‘A Mixed Picture’ Say Inspectors

HMPCardiffCommitted staff at HMP & YOI Cardiff had maintained stability in the prison during challenging times, but now needed to focus on longer-term improvement, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the category B local training prison.

HMP & YOI Cardiff held around 770 men at the time of its inspection. The prison had become less safe and the physical environment had declined since a previous inspection in 2013. Work to help prisoners resettle back into the community on release had improved and was reasonably good. Overall, inspectors found a mixed picture of progress in a local prison that had faced the same challenges as many other local prisons. Challenges included staff shortages and an increased availability and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), leading to an increase in unpredictable and violent behaviour. The prison had implemented a smoking ban that was unpopular with some.   Cardiff also had a high level of reported mental health problems. Despite these challenges, it did not feel unstable and staff-prisoner relationships had been maintained.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • staff-prisoner relationships were good, and those relationships were a key feature of the prison and helped it in facing the challenges;
  • health care was generally good, including good provision for those suffering from severe mental health issues;
  • there was a good range of work, training and education on offer, though it was not being fully utilised;
  • public protection work was sound; and
  • resettlement work was done well to meet the needs of the short-sentenced prisoners who formed the large majority of the population.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • more needed to be done to address the supply of illegal drugs into the prison;
  • there were rising levels of violence and weak management of key areas such as the use of force;
  • some cells were in a poor state and there was a lack of basic facilities, such as bedding; and
  • prisoners spent too much time locked in their cells.


Peter Clarke said:
“HMP & YOI Cardiff relied very heavily on a decent, hard-working staff group who had maintained good relationships with the men in their care, and had done well to keep the prison stable through some challenging times. However, for the future, the prison needs to reduce its reliance on key individuals and embed sound working practices and processes into the operation of the establishment, thereby ensuring long-term safety and stability.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector has commended the work of staff at Cardiff. Despite significant operational pressures the prison has continued to deliver a positive regime with good levels of purposeful activity and effective support of prisoners before release.

“There is more to do and action has already been taken to tackle safety including the appointment of a new Violence Reduction Manager to drive forward improvement.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 13 December 2016 at:

Smoking ban to come into effect in prisons

prisoner-smokingSmoking will be banned in all prisons in Wales and four in south-west England from next year, the government has said.

It is the first stage of a plan to make all jails in England and Wales smoke-free.

And from next month, smoking will be barred in the interior of all “open” prisons in England and Wales.

Earlier this year, the Prison Governors Association said a smoking ban risked making jails more unstable.

Its new president, Andrea Albutt, said tobacco could become an illicit currency.

A smoke-free policy will be implemented in all prisons in Wales – Cardiff, Parc, Swansea and Usk/Prescoed – from January 2016, and at four English prisons – Exeter, Channings Wood, Dartmoor and Erlestoke – from March 2016.

Police Probed After Jail Cell Death

cardiff prison

Police conduct during the period between the arrest of a man for assault and his death in prison three days later is under investigation.

Christopher Shapley, 43, of Aberdare, was found dead in a cell on September 20 after his transfer from South Wales Police custody the day before.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking at police action prior to his transfer to the court and prison service.

The police watchdog will focus on a period from Mr Shapley’s arrest for assault on September 17 when he was taken to Merthyr Tydfil Custody Unit.

The investigation is an automatic referral, under the Police Reform Act, triggered by the contact the force had with him before his death.

Mr Shapley was charged with common assault and threats to kill on September 18 and was remanded in custody before his court hearing on 19 September.

He was then transferred from police custody to HM Prison Cardiff and was discovered dead in his cell on September 20.

Jan Williams, IPCC commissioner for Wales, said: “This is a difficult time for Mr Shapley’s family and friends and they have my every sympathy over their loss. Our investigators have met with Mr Shapley’s family and explained what we will be investigating.

“We will seek to establish what information was available to the police to inform any risk assessments made, how that information was obtained and recorded and whether it was properly shared with other agencies.

“Our investigation will also investigate police actions and decisions, as well as relevant policies and procedures and whether these were followed.”

The Prison Ombudsman will carry out a separate investigation into Mr Shapley’s death.


With goats cheese tart made by a drugs mule and hand made pastries put together by a convicted killer, a new restaurant run by prisoners is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “doing porridge”.

The Clink Cymru, located slap-bang outside Cardiff HMP, is a new scheme aiming to offer diners haute cuisine at reasonable prices while teaching inmates new skills.

The 96-cover air conditioned restaurant in the Welsh capital features plenty of the hallmarks of fine dining – from its iridescent lighting to plush leather chairs.

Items on the menu sound more like the stuff of posh London restaurant Claridge’s than off a prison wing – with dishes including braised pheasant with cranberries and Aylesbury duck breast and confit leg with orange gremolata.

The fact food served and prepared by convicted criminals is only subtly reinforced by arty style photographs of a prison wing and poems about life inside, which have been etched on to frosted glass.

But despite its plush trappings and unique set-up, charity bosses and Ministry of Justice officials insist the project is not a soft option – and aims to provide rehabilitation as well as reducing reoffending rates.

Richard Booty is the governor of Cardiff Prison, which is operating the scheme in conjunction The Prison Service and charity The Clink.

He said: “This is not about being nice to prisoners or going soft on them.

“Prison is about learning to be respectful and decent members of society.

“Part of my mission is to ensure that the public remains protected but another is to reduce the risk of reoffending for those who will be released.

“This scheme would not be running if there was not some positive outcomes at the end of it.”

The concept of The Clink was initially devised by award-winning chef Alberto Crisci after running cookery classes at HMP High Down in Surrey.

The product of Italian parents and an Epsom upbringing, he had carved out a successful career in cooking with his CV including a stint at top Mayfair restaurant Mirabelle.

He said: “The reason why I started doing the cooking classes in the first place was because I wanted to give something back and help people.

“I was amazed by some of the talents that some of the inmates had, and it seemed to me that it was such a waste these talents were not put to good use.

“So, setting up a restaurant and a system where prisoners would get qualifications as well vital experience seemed like the next logical step.”

And in 2009, the first Clink restaurant was opened in HMP High Down – where trainees worked a full working week while studying for a City & Guilds NVQ.

Two years later, the scheme officially became a registered charity and set its sights on expanding.

Despite each potential new restaurant costing around £500,000 a year to run, officials at Cardiff Prison were impressed with its success rate.

Fewer than 30% of those participating in the scheme had found themselves back behind bars – compared with the UK average reoffending rate of 61%.

“I’m a firm believer in giving people a second chance,” added Crisci.

“I was fairly naughty at school, but I was lucky in having a strict Catholic background and a supportive family.

“But not everyone has that and you have to say ‘there for the grace of God go I’.”

The new restaurant employs around 30 inmates from HMP Cardiff and the “open prison” HMP Prescoed, Usk, Monmouthshire, and sees them being paid about £14 for a 40-hour working week.

To be eligible to train and work at the restaurant, prisoners must have between six and 18 months left on their sentence.

They must also have resolved any issues, such as alcohol and drug dependency or anger management.

Everything at the restaurant – from full meals to biscuits and bread – is made from scratch by the prisoners.

And even the tables and chairs have been made by offenders, and the food is sourced from a prison farm at HMP Prescoed.

Anyone with any sexual offence convictions is ineligible.

The restaurant has a strict zero tolerance policy – and provides father figures to prisoners who may never have been “told off” or praised.

There is also an aim to change public perception of prisoners before and after their release, so the public can see them in a professional role.

But despite the goal of changing inmates’ lives, the 50-year-old Crisci hopes people will see past the novelty.

“Of course some people will come at first because of the novelty, he added.

“But I don’t want customers to say ‘that wasn’t bad for food made by prisoners’.

“I want them to have one of the best meals they’ve ever had.”

Among those also hoping to convince detractors wrong, as well as proving to themselves they have a future, is convicted killer “Woody”.

The 40-year-old cook, currently serving a sentence for manslaughter, has previous experience of working in the catering industry.

“I’m on what is known as my second strike – which basically means one more conviction could see me given a life sentence,” he added.

“What The Clink does is give people confidence in themselves.

“Some who leave prison think ‘what’s the point in going straight?’ when there’s no hope or chance of getting a job.

“This at least gives people the chance to believe and prove to themselves as well as others that they can do something positive with their lives.”

Although Woody and some of his kitchen colleagues still have a way to go before getting their foot in the door of the higher end of the catering industry, past beneficiaries insist it can be done.

Among those is former inmate Kane Sterling.

He was serving an eight month jail term when offered the chance to work at the first Clink restaurant in HMP High Down in Surrey.

Sterling, who later found work as a head waiter, said: “The Clink offers a lifeline for prisoners, giving them the chance to gain new skills, which help them break out of the cycle of crime that is often so difficult.”

UK new Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright, who attended The Clink Cymru’s opening in Knox Road today, is also a fan.

He said he would like to see more projects like The Clink rolled out across the country.

“We want to see prisoners treated fairly and not enjoying luxury,” he added.

“As well as expecting prisoners to be deprived of their liberty, people also expect that they will be reformed and not go back.”