Category Archives: Prison – Pentonville

HMP Pentonville – Some Progress But Levels of Violence Too High

pentonvilleHMP Pentonville had made some progress but was still not safe enough, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the local London jail.

HMP Pentonville, an overcrowded Victorian prison serving courts in North London, holds over 1,200 adult and young adult men. The population is complex and demanding. Just over half are sentenced for serious violent or drug-related offences. Gang behaviour is pervasive and brings significant challenges for stability and good order. Around a quarter of the population are foreign nationals. During the inspection, health inspectors discovered that one in five men was taking anti-psychotic drugs, which has significant implications for all staff dealing with their care and management. In 2016, 111 patients had been transferred or listed for transfer to a secure mental health unit, the largest number of psychiatric transfers inspectors have ever seen.
Two previous Pentonville inspections highlighted increasing concerns about poor outcomes for prisoners and, in February 2015, inspectors gave the lowest score for three out of four healthy prison tests. As a consequence, this more recent inspection was announced to give prison staff the opportunity to address the main concerns. Recent findings were encouraging in some ways, with efforts made to address previous criticisms, but inspectors continue to have concerns, particularly about safety. Levels of violence remained too high and some of it was serious, including a homicide in late 2016.
Inspectors were also concerned to find that:

  • there had been five self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2015 and frailties in the care for those at risk of suicide or self-harm were evident;
  • governance, reporting and quality assurance of security, adjudications and use of force needed attention to provide reassurance that poor behaviour was being identified, well managed and dealt with fairly;
  • the prison did not fully understand the needs of foreign national prisoners and what they could do to support them better; and
  • the provision of learning and skills needed to develop still further, using data to drive improvements, including looking at those who started courses but didn’t complete them.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there had been some proactive measures to address levels of disorder, and there were signs that this was having a positive impact;
  • work to limit the supply of drugs, and support for men with substance misuse problems, was well developed;
  • real efforts had been made to make the prison cleaner and to enable men to live decent lives;
  • staff-prisoner relationships had improved, although management needed to maintain focus on this;
  • the daily routine (regime) was more predictable and the number of work, training and education places had increased significantly; and
  • work to resettle prisoners back into the community had improved, and help for men with accommodation problems and to maintain contact with their families was noteworthy.

 

Peter Clarke said:

“It is clear that Pentonville remains an immensely challenging prison, and that outcomes for prisoners remain, in many respects, not good enough. However, we were encouraged to see at this inspection a tangible sense of purpose and optimism among the governor and his senior management team, which were having a galvanising effect on the staff group as a whole. Leaders had a plan for where they wanted to take the prison, and had introduced a number of helpful initiatives with more planned. Nevertheless, the complexities of the prison mean that its leadership will continue to need significant external support from HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) if Pentonville is to deliver acceptable and consistent outcomes for prisoners.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of HM Prison & Probation Service, said:

“Pentonville has been through a very challenging period and I’m pleased that the Inspectorate have recognised progress has been made. The Governor and staff deserve credit for what has been achieved in difficult circumstances but as the report makes clear, there remains more to do.

“More prison officers are now being recruited for Pentonville and for prisons across the estate. With these additional resources in place Pentonville will be able to address the Inspectorate’s concerns and accelerate progress.”

A copy of the full report, published on 14 June, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

Knock down Pentonville and start again say IMB

ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE INDEPENDENT MONITORING BOARD:  HMP PENTONVILLE Knock down Pentonville and start again, or urgently upgrade the decrepit, 174 year-old building if the new threats plaguing prisons up and down the land – ‘Spice’ and drones – are to be tackled. That’s the stark message being delivered to the new Justice Secretary, Liz Truss,… Continue Reading

Victorian prisons could be sold

Victorian jails could be closed and sold off to help fund an upgrade of Britain’s “out of date and overcrowded” prison estate, Michael Gove has indicated. The Government must consider shutting down “ageing and ineffective” city sites and replacing them with new buildings, the Justice Secretary said. In his first speech on prisons since being… Continue Reading

Conditions at Pentonville prison deteriorating, says chief inspector

Nick Hardwick blames ‘failure of management’ at jail where drugs are easily available, cells are filthy, blood-stained, and some inmates are locked up 23 hours a day Staff at Pentonville prison failed to do anything about bloodstained cells and beds even when inspectors raised concerns with them during an official visit this year, their report… Continue Reading

Prison Officer jailed over tips to newspaper

A former prison officer has been jailed for 10 months for selling “salacious gossip” about celebrity inmates to the Sun and Mirror newspapers. While working at Pentonville Prison, Reggie Nunkoo, 41, was paid £600 by the Mirror for information he gave reporter Graham Brough about Jack Tweed being on suicide watch and a prison break… Continue Reading

HMP Pentonville – “Huge Challenges”

HMP Pentonville was very concerning, despite the best efforts of many staff and governors, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the north London local jail. At the time of the inspection, Pentonville was seriously overcrowded and held 1,236 men, 35% above its certified normal accommodation. More… Continue Reading

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