HMP Parc Young Persons Unit: Inspectors Commend Continuing Improvement – But CSIP and Catering Issues Must Be Addressed

Inspectors visited the Young Persons Unit at HMP Parc in South Wales last October and in their Report, published on 26th February 2019, said:

HMYOI Parc is a small juvenile facility comprising two wings and holding up to 60 boys aged under 18 located in the much larger Parc prison in South Wales. The unit and wider prison are operated by the private company G4S. At the time of this annual inspection there were 37 boys in residence.

At our last inspection we reported how good leadership and a re-energised staff group had contributed to significant improvement at the establishment. It was clear on this visit that the team had continued in their efforts to make the unit safer, more purposeful and more respectful. We had previously found high levels of violence, and boys with poor perceptions of their own safety. During this inspection, perceptions of safety were much better and recorded violence was on a consistent downward trajectory, with few serious incidents. Very few boys isolated themselves in their cells or were located in the segregation unit. The leadership team had established a reward-led culture that motivated most boys to behave, incorporating an evidence-based instant rewards scheme that we considered good practice.

Child protection procedures, an area in which we have previously been critical, were now much more effective and again evidenced good practice. Similarly, the multidisciplinary case management approach to managing the victims and perpetrators of violence through the application of a nationally sponsored process known as CSIP1 was an example to the many establishments that have struggled to grasp its potential.

Our highest assessments were in the areas of respect and purposeful activity. The units were clean and well maintained, relationships between boys and staff were good, and staff were tolerant but also displayed the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour when necessary. They balanced authority and care to create a supportive and disciplined environment.

The strategic approach to the management of equality and diversity had improved and health care services remained good. Time out of cell was impressive, even for those on the lowest level of the rewards scheme. There had been a progressive move to establishing a whole-unit approach to managing the boys at Parc. Departments worked together in a way we do not often see. Some experienced prison officers had been supported to undertake the postgraduate Certificate in Education training to work in education, which served to break down barriers between departments.

The education unit was exceeding the performance indicators set out in its contract and boys achieved a success rate of over 90% in most qualifications.

However, we made two main recommendations, one regarding the food and the other risk management. During our inspection, we spoke to most of the boys on both units. They were quick to praise staff and were very fair about their experiences at Parc, complaining about very little. This gave considerable credibility to their consistent complaints about food. Our own observations supported their negative perceptions and we would urge the prison to meet with the contractor at the earliest opportunity to address concerns in this important area.

Our second main recommendation concerned weaknesses in the establishment’s approach to risk management. Caseworkers worked well as part of multidisciplinary teams and were particularly effective in helping to manage boys on CSIP plans. The team knew the boys on their caseloads well and contact was good. However, despite significant information about risk being available to caseworkers, it was not always recognised or sufficiently investigated to inform sentence planning and management. This meant that planning for release did not adequately consider the vulnerabilities of or risks posed by some boys on their return to the community.

Given the energy and commitment put into addressing the concerns raised at previous inspections, we remain confident that leaders at Parc will make every effort to address our recommendations.

This was a good inspection and we found that the establishment was characterised by good relationships, excellent multidisciplinary work and strong leadership.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales writes:

There is no getting away from it this is a good report on a small unit managed by G4S, the same company that six months ago saw the Ministry of Justice step-in to Birmingham Prison, which it also then operated, because of disastrous issues of management and control.

The young person population at Parc is minute by comparison, the report is silent on the resources made available to this Unit in terms of staff profiling, a constant defect in Inspection Reports that prevent effective comparability, but this is a good report, on an often difficult to manage, volatile and vulnerable population.

Parc overall is a huge prison, one of the largest in Europe and a research report last month showed that Wales has the highest rate of imprisonment in Western Europe – despite having one of the lowest crime rates.

The rewards-based focus identified in the report demonstrates once again that more carrot and less stick is often the most effective way to achieve behavioural change, and G4S are to be commended for putting rehabilitation and reducing reoffending at the heart of their work.

The two issues identified as defective in the report must be tackled.

The issue with catering, producing food that is often cold, unappetising and the source of constant complaints – confirmed by the Inspectorate – must be a major focus now for the prison’s management; we have seen too many times how complaints about food can lead to serious unrest if the issue is not tackled effectively.

But by far the more serious issue is with the weaknesses identified with the approach to CSIP, which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. [Challenge, Support and Intervention Planning, is a system used to manage the most violent prisoners and support the most vulnerable prisoners in the system. Prisoners who are identified as the perpetrator of serious or repeated violence, or who are vulnerable due to being the victim of violence or bullying behaviour, are managed and intended to be supported on a plan with individualised targets and regular reviews.] 

My one point of caution would be that all the good work that is being achieved at this small unit at Parc risks being undone if the issue with CSIP is not addressed properly – and this takes on an even greater significance if, as seems likely at the end of their sentence, these young people are simply tossed back into the same toxic inner-city, high-crime, poor opportunity environments that they were first taken out of – but that is a societal issue for the Welsh and UK Governments as a whole to tackle, and in respect of which G4S to be fair can itself have little effect.

Read the Report

HMYOI Parc Juvenile Unit – Much good work with children, but some safety concern

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There was much to commend at Parc, but they needed to understand why safety had declined and act upon it, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the young people’s unit at the local prison in South Wales. [previous report]

Parc juvenile unit is a distinct and generally well separated part of the much larger prison, HMP/YOI Parc near Bridgend. The unit can accommodate 64 children, though 38 were there at the time of inspection. Its catchment area encompasses south and mid-Wales and much of south-west England. When it was last inspected in May 2014, inspectors found that young people were well cared for and experienced positive outcomes. During this more recent inspection, outcomes in the important areas of ‘safety’ and ‘respect’ had declined from ‘good’ to ‘reasonably good’. Reception, safeguarding and child protection arrangements remained effective.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • 42% of children reported being victimised by staff, which had more than doubled from the 20% in May 2014;
  • only 55% of boys felt they were treated with respect by staff;
  • the use of force had tripled since the previous inspection, mostly in response to violent incidents; and
  • almost a quarter of the boys reported having been assaulted by other boys at Parc.

Some of this level of violence was ascribed by staff to the destabilising effect of two particularly difficult children transferred into Parc during the autumn of 2015. If that was the case, managers need to be sure they have plans in place to stop it happening again.

The leadership were committed to providing a safe and decent environment for children and there were many instances of good work, including:

  • boys accessed significantly more time out of their cell than at other young offender institutions, with regular association and exercise periods; and
  • segregation was rarely used, despite challenging behaviour.

Peter Clarke said:

“Despite all the positive things that were happening at Parc, there can be no room for complacency, as the judgements in the areas of ‘safety’ and ‘respect’ have declined since the last inspection. I am sure the leadership at Parc will give this their full attention, and strive to return the establishment to its previous high performance in these key areas.”

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

“As the report notes, there is some very positive work being undertaken with young people in Parc with a high level of purposeful activity and good education and resettlement provision. The number of young people in custody has continued to fall but the challenges presented by those who remain, particularly in terms of violence, are considerable. The Director and her team are committed to providing a safe and positive environment for young people in their care and will use the findings from this report to address areas of concern to achieve improvement.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

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.

Grayling denies prisons crisis

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said it is “unfortunate” the press only cover bad news about prisons and was forced to deny a crisis in the system after a serves of damning reports – causing one expert to say he is playing with words.
A series of highly critical reports from Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick over the summer has led Labour to accuse Mr Grayling of burying his head in the sand over the “shambolic” prison system.
But the Justice Secretary insisted there are “many” good prisons for every bad one after being quizzed by Labour former prisons minister David Hanson on the situation at Wormwood Scrubs, Glen Parva, and Doncaster prisons.
All three were identified by the chief inspector as either unsafe or in decline this year.During justice questions in the Commons, Mr Grayling told Mr Hanson: “It is unfortunate that the press coverage is always of the bad reports, not for example today when we have an excellent report from Chelmsford, two weeks ago when we had an excellent report from Parc youth offender institutions.
“The Chief Inspector has rightly been looking this year at prisons where there have been challenges in the past.”But it is the case, and you will know if you visit prisons around the estate, there is a lot of very good work being done by our teams, going through a process of change caused by budget pressures, they are doing a first rate job.
“And for every time you get a report questioning performance in one prison, there are many others that are doing a first rate job, as you will know yourself.”
Mr Grayling’s response prompted shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan to claim suicides, self harm, deaths in prison, serious assaults and call-outs for the riot squad are all on the rise.
Mr Khan said one in five prisons in England and Wales are now rated by the Government’s offender management service as “of concern” – more than doubling in a year.
The Labour MP said: “We’ve had four reports from the Chief Inspector of Prisons which have been pretty damning into Glen Parva, Doncaster, Isis and Wormwood Scrubs.
“What will it take for you to accept that we are in the midst of a prison crisis?”
Mr Grayling replied: “As always you paint a very partial view of what’s going on in our prisons.
“Our prisons are less overcrowded than they have been at any point since 2001, they are less violent than they were under the last government, there is more work being done in our prisons today than was the case under the previous government, the amount of prisoners going through education is rising.
“There are staff shortages in parts of our prisons system but across the prisons system we have a dedicated staff working hard, doing the right job.
“I take very seriously the issue of suicide in our prisons, we saw a rise in numbers in the year, we saw a fall in numbers across the summer, we may see a rise, we may see a fall in the future. These are difficult to track, we work very hard to tackle what is a real problem.”
But Mr Khan blasted Mr Grayling for failing to manage the prison system.He said: “This is classic head in the sand syndrome.”The Government cannot pretend any longer that there is no crisis in our prisons. Even their own backbenchers say the system is shambolic.”Your priorities, regardless of your budget, must be the security of the public and prison officers, and the welfare of inmates.
“Your department is failing in all three – not my words, but an editorial in The Sun newspaper.
“Bearing in mind you were appointed by the Prime Minister in your current job to appeal to the red tops, what’s gone wrong?”
Mr Grayling replied: “I will think we have a problem in our prisons when I am forced through bad planning to release tens of thousands of prisoners weeks early, to commit crimes they should not have committed as the last government did.
“I know I will have a problem when I have to hire thousands of police cells when we don’t have enough space in our prisons.
“The truth is we have space in our prisons, they are less overcrowded, we are increasing education, they are less violent than they were under the last government.
“We have faced challenges given budget pressures but we are doing a much better job than you did.”
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national prisons newspaper said Mr Grayling was “playing with words” on a subject that deserved the utmost seriousness.
Mr Leech said: “Of course there are good reports and bad reports, nothing is all good or bad.
“But what Grayling refuses to recognise is that the bad reports are not only out numbering the good ones but the bad reports are worse than in the past with prisons failing weekly on the most serious issues of safety and decency.
“Grayling is playing with words on a subject that deserves seriousness and respect.”

HMYOI PARC JUVENILE UNIT – SAFE, DECENT AND PURPOSEFUL

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The juvenile unit at Parc was working well with the young people it held, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the young people’s unit at the prison and young offender institution in South Wales.

The juvenile unit at Parc is a separate part of the much larger Parc prison. It holds boys under 18 from an area that has increased to include not only South Wales but also parts of south west England. Its last inspection in 2012 found generally very positive outcomes. This inspection found that the young people held were well cared for.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

Parc was a safe institution, with robust and efficient child protection arrangements and staff who understood their responsibilities well;
there was prompt support for those at risk of intimidation;
security was very good and levels of violence were nearly all very minor;
behaviour management strategies were in place and young people were clear about the standards expected of them;
levels of self-harm were very low and structures to support those that might be at risk were well integrated;
supervision was thorough and use of force was only applied as a last resort;
evidence found suggested hardly any use of illicit substances, but there were good support services for boys who needed them;
relationships between staff and young people were excellent;
access to outside areas and general amenities, such as showers and telephones, was good;
young people had good access to time out of their cells and prompt access to a range of learning and skills activities; and
work to support the resettlement of young people was reasonably good.

Nick Hardwick said

“Parc is a good and accountable facility providing a safe and respectful environment where learning and resettlement support can be provided. The unit is well led and the attitude of staff is key to its success. Young people are not collectively seen as a problem or blamed, and the culture is not punitive. On the contrary, staff set clear boundaries and work legitimately with young people. Staff set a good example, advocate on their behalf and listen to their concerns. An added strength is the size of the unit which allows for really good supervision, and this brings confidence and security to staff and young people alike.”

Sarah Payne, Director of the National Offender Management Service Wales, said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted the good work that is taking place at Parc.

“The Director and her staff have developed excellent relationships with the young people, and they deserve real credit for providing a safe and rehabilitative environment that will help to reduce reoffending.

“They will now use the recommendations to deliver further improvements.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 27 August 2014 at http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons