Thotn hill prison

HMP/YOI Thorn Cross was a safe and decent prison with good work, training and education provision for prisoners, and support to help them resettle back into communities, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Managers and staff were to be congratulated, he added. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison in Cheshire.

HMP/YOI Thorn Cross holds just over 380 prisoners. In recent years it has evolved from an institution holding mainly young prisoners to one that holds prisoners of all ages and sentence lengths. At this inspection nearly three-quarters of the population were aged 30 or over and the majority were serving sentences in excess of four years. Thorn Cross has been a good establishment for many years. Its last inspection in 2012 was positive and it remained a well-led and confident institution, receiving inspectors’ highest judgement in all areas inspected.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • very few prisoners said they felt unsafe, good support was provided for new arrivals and there were few violent incidents;
  • the number of prisoners at risk of self-harm was few, but those in crisis received adequate support;
  • security was proportionate;
  • drug services were excellent;
  • the environment and accommodation were good;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were overwhelmingly positive;
  • prisoners had very good time out of their cells and were able to access good education and vocational training opportunities; and
  • public protection arrangements were sound and services to help prisoners resettle back into the community were also good.

Some prisoners expressed frustration about the perceived fairness of the release on temporary licence (ROTL) scheme, where prisoners work outside the prison. The prison should do more to understand and address those negative perceptions.

Peter Clarke said:
“We concluded our inspection at a time when the prison was about to change governors so faced a time of potential disruption. The prison, however, was on a firm footing and well placed for the future. Managers and staff were to be congratulated for their hard work and success.”

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

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has recognised the excellent work taking place at HMP/YOI Thorn Cross in providing education and vocational training opportunities for prisoners.

“I want to pay tribute to the commitment and professionalism of staff at Thorn Cross, who have created a positive environment and have continued to deliver good outcomes for the prisoners in their care.”

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