MP Standford Hill was well led and had made significant progress, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.
HMP Standford Hill was previously managed as part of a cluster of Isle of Sheppey prisons but while some services continue to be shared, the prison is now independent and has its own governor. At the time of its inspection, the prison held 456 adult men, nearly all of whom were coming to the end of a long prison sentence or nearing the expiry of a life sentence tariff. The number of prisoners with indeterminate sentences for public protection had increased significantly since the last inspection and nearly all these men were now well beyond their tariff expiry date. At its previous inspection in December 2011, inspectors found that despite some good work, resettlement work was fragmented and inconsistent. This inspection found a much improved prison where preparing men for release and resettling them back into the community was at the core of nearly everything that happened.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- prisoners felt safe, early days support on arrival was good, levels of violence were low and arrangements to manage poor behaviour, when it happened, were strong;
- prisoners clearly felt they had a personal investment in following the prison’s rules and something important to lose if they transgressed;
- security arrangements were appropriate to an open prison and robust, while supporting resettlement work;
- the challenges with illicit drugs and alcohol were well managed, which was a significant achievement given the large number of men working out of the prison each day;
- the living environment was clean and decent;
- the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners had improved overall, and some staff were excellent;
- learning and skills provision was very good and all prisoners were occupied in some good education and work places within the prison, while over half of prisoners benefited from placements in the community;
- resettlement services had improved and the processes to risk assess release on temporary licence (ROTL) were suitably robust and reflected recent improvements to ROTL assessment rules; and
- offender management work was mostly good, as was support in the resettlement pathways.
However, inspectors found that more work needed to be done to understand the concerns of some black and minority ethnic and Muslim prisoners and to look at why their outcomes in some areas were poorer than those of white prisoners.
Nick Hardwick said:
“Standford Hill had made significant progress since our last inspection against all of our healthy prison tests, most notably in putting resettlement work at the heart of the prison. The prison was very well led, and we had confidence that it would continue to progress.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“This report highlights the excellent work being done at Standford Hill to get prisoners ready for life on the outside.
“The Governor and her staff deserve huge credit for the quality of work and training provided both inside the prison and on placements in the community.
“As the Chief Inspector makes clear the prison is maintaining a clear and proper focus on public protection whilst providing excellent rehabilitation opportunities which will reduce reoffending and cut crime.”
A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons