HMP Wymott remained reasonably safe and was doing good work to rehabilitate prisoners and to reduce the risk of reoffending, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in Lancashire.
HMP Wymott holds over 1,100 prisoners, approximately half of whom have been convicted of sex offences. Nearly all prisoners are now serving sentences of more than four years and up to life. Previous inspections have been positive. This more recent inspection concluded that Wymott remained a reasonably safe prison, although the summer months prior to this inspection saw a significant spike in violent incidents. The likely explanation for this concerned gang-related issues linked to the supply of new psychoactive substances. The prison had identified the key prisoners involved in the supply and use of these substances and had taken prompt and robust action to address it. Levels of violence had started to reduce towards the previous relatively low levels, but continued vigilance was needed.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- arrangements to keep vulnerable prisoners safe remained good;
- staff-prisoner relationships were generally respectful;
- prison managers focused on ensuring the prison was decent and on improving the environment;
- learning and skills provision had improved further and outcomes were either good or outstanding in all the areas Ofsted inspected;
- some excellent work was carried out to challenge offending behaviour and the psychologically informed planned environment unit for those with complex offending behaviour was a positive addition;
- the substance misuse therapeutic community remained an excellent facility; and
- despite some weaknesses in reintegration work for men being released from Wymott, the overall picture in resettlement was good.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- as a result of the spike in violence, some prisoners were isolating themselves on wings and managers needed to do more to improve their access to the daily routine;
- the number of men with disabilities had increased and the ageing population included some with very limited mobility, but living accommodation for these men needed to be improved;
- health care provision was weak and in some areas, potentially unsafe; and
- staffing shortages had resulted in a restricted core day, and too many men were locked in their cells during the working day (15%), rather than participating in the good range of work, training and education offered.
Peter Clarke said:
“HMP Wymott was weathering similar pressures and challenges to other prisons, but was doing so with a proactive ‘can do’ approach, with an emphasis on finding solutions to problems and maintaining reasonably good outcomes for prisoners. This was underpinned by strong leadership that prioritised decency and provided men with opportunities to address their risks and work towards a successful rehabilitation. We commend the work being done and support the leadership team’s efforts to improve further.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “This is a positive report which recognises some really good work being undertaken at Wymott with a complex and challenging prisoner population.
“By providing a constructive regime which improves education levels and employment prospects, Wymott is helping prisoners turn their lives around, preventing victims and reducing crime.
“The Governor will use the recommendations in this report to achieve further improvements over the coming months.’
A copy of the full report, published on 14 February, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons