HMP/YOI Moorland – significant improvements in safety and respect but must address public protection weakness

HMP/YOI Moorland, an adult and young adult men’s resettlement prison near Doncaster, showed “reassuring” improvements since its previous inspection, particularly in reducing violence overall.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that in February 2016 Moorland was uncertain about whether it would be privatised and was suffering very badly from the impact of illicit drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances (NPS).

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It was therefore heartening, Mr Clarke said, to see the progress in the past three years. Safety and respect had both gone up from an assessment of ‘not sufficiently good’ to ‘reasonably good’, and purposeful activity, including training and education, remained at sufficiently good. However, its work on rehabilitation and resettlement remained at ‘not sufficiently good.’

The improvements in safety and respect were a “significant achievement, and testament to a huge amount of hard work by all the leaders and staff at Moorland.

“Levels of violence had not only stabilised, but had actually decreased – clearly bucking the national trend over that period.” However, despite this overall reduction, assaults against staff had doubled and were higher than at similar prisons. Use of force by staff had increased since the last inspection, though levels were now similar to other category C prisons. It was also notable, Mr Clarke added, “that the prevalence of NPS seen at the last inspection has decreased.”

Self-harm was very high and it was disappointing that there were insufficient Listeners – prisoners trained by the Samaritans to provide confidential emotional support to fellow prisoners. Staff-prisoner relationships had improved considerably since 2016 and the prison’s key worker scheme was having a beneficial impact. In-cell telephones were “beneficial in many ways.” The prison was urged, though, to develop a better understanding of survey data suggesting adverse results for black and minority ethnic and disabled prisoners.

The most serious concern for inspectors was the lack of effective public protection measures. Over half the population, 530 men, were assessed as presenting a high risk and about a third were convicted sex offenders.

Mr Clarke said: “It was unacceptable that high risk prisoners approaching release were not receiving the detailed consideration that their potential risk to the public should have demanded.” Inspectors also noted that “arrangements to conduct and review telephone monitoring were chaotic and unmanageable. Child contact restrictions were poorly managed, and there were no assessments to support decisions.” Mr Clarke added: “Moorland has now been a resettlement prison for a number of years, and this whole area of responsibility, not only to the prisoners but also to the public, needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Overall, however, Mr Clarke said:

“This was a good inspection, and although there were some vital areas where improvement was still needed, it was obvious that the findings of the last inspection had been taken seriously… I would urge the leadership and staff at Moorland not to feel defensive about some of the issues raised in this report, which some might interpret as criticism. It is the duty of HM Inspectorate of Prisons to report on what we see, and if there are shortcomings we will point them out, in the spirit of helping to secure further improvements through recommendations. This was a reassuring inspection, and shows what can be achieved even in difficult and testing times, but it would be unduly complacent not to acknowledge that further improvement is necessary and achievable.”

Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Director General of Prisons, said:

“This is a very promising report, and the decrease in violence and use of drugs is a testament to the huge amount of hard work by staff at HMP Moorland. We take the concerns raised around public protection very seriously and the prison is already implementing new plans for managing offenders’ release. We are also rolling out the key worker scheme – which gives each prisoner a dedicated officer for engagement and support and has led to a reduction in attacks on staff elsewhere – which should help the prison to build on the good progress that the inspection team have highlighted.”

Read the Report

EXCLUSIVE! Prisoners Owe £2.25 million in Unpaid Prison Damage Compensation Orders.

 

 

Prisoners in England and Wales owe £2.25million to the taxpayer for damage caused to prisons and prison property.

Since a change to the Prison Rules that came into effect in November 2013, with Prison Service Instruction 31/2013, prisons in England and Wales have been able to impose a requirement that a prisoner pay compensation via a Damage Obligation Order (doo) for the destruction or damage they cause to prisons and prison property – and it allows prison Governors to take monies directly from a prisoner’s money account held at the prison to satisfy the compensation debt.

The compensation ordered to be paid has to be for the full value of the damage caused, up to a maximum of £2,000, and the debts last for a maximum of two years or until a prisoner’s sentence expires; whichever is the sooner and money cannot be collected past this point.

In recent times there have been reports of serious disturbances in a number of prisons across England and Wales.

In October 2016, a national response unit (Tornado riots teams) were brought into control prisoners in a wing at HMP Lewes, East Sussex.

In November 2016, there were reports of a riot involving 230 prisoners at HMP Bedford, and disturbances involving 40 prisoners at HMP Moorland in Yorkshire.

In December 2016, 240 prisoners had to be moved after a twelve hour riot at HMP Birmingham, and inmates reportedly took over part of Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales criticised the compensation orders as ‘unworkable’ when they were introduced by the then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, saying that as the vast majority of prisoners have little or no money to pay any such compensation order with, the reality was that debts would simply continue to mount – and now evidence obtained from the Ministry of Justice shows that is exactly what has happened.

In March 2017 Mr Leech submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the MOJ asking for details of how much money remains unpaid by prisoners subject to a doo.

Despite the law requiring a response to the FOIA request within 28 days, it took 15 months of persistent questions before the MOJ finally released the information showing that, as of February 2017 when the FOIA Request was submitted, prisoners owed £2,250,000 in unpaid compensation for damage to prison property.

Mr Leech said: “Like so much of what Chris Grayling introduced during his time as Justice Secretary its barmy, his ridiculous banning of books to prisoners, his unnecessary restrictions on temporary licence release and home detention curfew – all of which have since been reversed – this is yet another policy failure that shows this was always more about political posturing than it was about actual policy delivery.

“The solution is not to impose uncollectible compensation orders on prisoners who can’t pay in a month of Sunday’s, but to make our prisons safe, secure, decent and humane so riots do not happen and the taxpayer is not left with a repair bill that realistically they can never collect.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “It is right that prisoners should reimburse taxpayers for damage caused to prison property wherever possible.

“The National Offender Management Service (NOMS), now known as Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), introduced the system of recovering monies from prisoners from 1 November 2013 through “damage obligation orders”.

“Following a finding of guilt on adjudication, a requirement to pay can be made for up to 100% of the damage caused, including labour costs. However the maximum must not exceed £2,000 and must never exceed the value of the damage caused.”

HMP/YOI Moorland – New Psychoactive Substances Threat Level Raised To ‘Severe’

moorland_prisonThe availability of new psychoactive substances was threatening to undermine recent progress at Moorland, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the South Yorkshire resettlement prison.

HMP/YOI Moorland holds around 1,000 prisoners, of whom around 250 are foreign national offenders and 340 are sex offenders. The prison is in the process of adapting to its new role as a resettlement prison for the area. The recent history of the prison has been one of uncertainty and disruption and at one point the prison had been earmarked for privatisation.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the threat posed to the stability of the prison by new psychoactive substances (NPS) is severe and despite some positive initiatives, the situation appears to be deteriorating and needs to be addressed;
  • forty-eight per cent of prisoners now say it is easy to get drugs at Moorland compared to 28% at the last inspection;
  • the number of violent incidents, fights and assaults had increased since the last inspection in 2012 and levels were also higher than at similar prisons;
  • almost one in five prisoners surveyed said they felt unsafe at the time of the inspection;
  • staff often struggled with the many demands made of them and, while most contacts with prisoners were polite, they were also mostly brief and often superficial;
  • work on diversity continued to be weak and had been undermined by chronic understaffing in the area; and
  • the overall strategic approach to resettlement lacked focus and too much of the work of the offender management unit was process-driven.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • care for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm was generally good;
  • there had been substantial improvements in the management and availability of work, training and education, with places for 87% of the population; and
  • the prison had successfully introduced a sex offender treatment programme in response to being re-roled as a national resource for holding sex offenders.

 

Peter Clarke said:

“There are real opportunities at Moorland to make progress, but the issues of NPS and inefficiencies in routine transactions that have such a negative impact on prisoners’ experiences need to be addressed. In particular, there is a real opportunity to make progress in embracing the prison’s new role as a resettlement prison, and in delivering treatment programmes for sex offenders. We saw evidence that many staff wanted to build constructive relationships with prisoners and to address the challenges facing Moorland. It will be the task of a focused and visible leadership team to inspire the staff to grasp the opportunities provided by the new roles that Moorland has assumed.”

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

“I am pleased that the inspector has highlighted the real progress being made at Moorland in purposeful activity as well as successfully introducing and managing sex offenders. The prison is currently going through a challenging time of transitioning to its new role as a resettlement prison and is working to ensure prisoners are prepared for release.

“We are not complacent about safety and there is clearly more work to do to address levels of violence and tackle increasing availability of NPS at the prison. The Governor and staff have put measures in place to reduce the rise in drugs and I am confident the team will continue to build on the firm foundations in place to take this work forward.

Read the report – copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 10 June 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons