Category Archives: Serco

HMP DOVEGATE: ‘Therapeutic Prison – Impressive Institution Working With High-Risk Violent Men’

Dovegate Therapeutic Prison (TP) in Staffordshire, which holds 200 men from across the prison service undergoing intensive programmes to reduce the risk they pose, was found by inspectors to be an impressive institution.

The men, most of whom are serving long or indeterminate sentences for serious offences, live in one of five therapeutic communities (TCs), and an induction unit. The TP is linked to the mainstream HMP Dovegate but was inspected separately.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector or Prisons, said: “The underlying ethos of TCs is that both staff and prisoners have a real say in how the communities are run. Men involved must be willing to be open about their offending and related institutional behaviour and to being challenged by their peers and staff. Therapy is embedded into all TC activities, not just in individual and group therapy sessions. It is a structured, externally validated intervention, and for men who go through the whole process, it lasts approximately two and a half years. Most men in the TP were serving very long determinate or indeterminate sentences.”

Inspectors found Dovegate TP to be a safe prison. Despite the histories of violent offending by many prisoners, there was very little violence in the TP. Men received good support on arrival, including the small number who felt vulnerable and were at risk of self-harm. There had been no self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2013. Dovegate TP was also a respectful prison, with good staff-prisoner relationships at the core of the therapeutic approach. Physical conditions were excellent, as was the external environment, and men felt well cared for, both by staff and their peers. Consultation arrangements were very strong, and the food provided was good. Time out of cell was also good, though teaching and learning was not consistent.

Most men felt they were making progress in the TCs and inspectors were struck by the insights the men had about their past behaviour and offending and about how different and productive their future could be.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“Dovegate TP was impressive. A national resource, it was part of the offender personality disorder pathway. It worked with men intensively over a period of years to better understand their problematic behaviour, attitudes and thinking patterns and to help them change. Most men who reached the end of the process made progress, and over 80% of respondents in our survey said they felt they had done something at the prison to make it less likely they would reoffend in the future. Learning, skills and work activities needed to better complement the prison’s therapeutic aims, and the clinical model underpinning therapy work needed to be implemented in full. However, in nearly all other respects the work the prison was carrying out was excellent.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said:

“I am pleased with this report which rightly recognises the impressive performance and positive environment at Dovegate Therapeutic Community, in particular the constructive staff-prisoner relationships. Many high risk prisoners are benefiting from the intensive work done to support rehabilitation and reduce the risk of reoffending.”

 Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report, published on 17 July 2018, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. HMP Dovegate was built in 2001 as a category B training prison. It had the first purpose-built custodial TP holding up to 200 residents. A small local prison servicing the courts also exists within the main prison. A TP consists of several distinct therapeutic communities (TCs) in which people choose to live together, support each other, challenge others and be challenged on all aspects of their offending. It aims to alter people’s way of thinking, enabling them to change their lives for the better. The TCs are run democratically, which means that where possible all members of the community are involved in making decisions that affect the community. Prisoners are encouraged to play an active role in their community and a variety of roles and representative jobs are available. Communities are learning experiences and everything was designed to have therapeutic value and provide men with an opportunity to develop within a safe environment.
  4. This unannounced inspection took place between 12 and 22 March 2018.
  5. For more on how HMI Prisons inspects prisons and places of detention, please read –

HMP Doncaster – “A very poor prison, safety a major concern” say Inspectors

Safety was a major concern at HMP Doncaster and a lack of staff was contributing to problems, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the South Yorkshire local jail. HMP Doncaster, which opened in 1994 and is managed by Serco, holds just over 1,000… Continue Reading

Prison officer admits misconduct in public office

A former prison officer who leaked stories to the Sun about a Serco-run immigration centre in west London has pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office. While working as a prisoner custody officer, Mark Blake, 42, from Slough, was paid nearly £8,000 for tips about the Colnbrook secure immigration removal centre in Hillingdon which… Continue Reading

Yarls Wood: “A Place of National Concern”

Controversial Immigration detention centre Yarl’s Wood has been labelled a “place of national concern” after a scathing report revealed conditions have deteriorated. Inspectors found dozens of pregnant women have been held at the facility in Bedfordshire against Government policy, while some are being held for more than a year because of “unacceptable” delays in processing… Continue Reading

Yarls Wood high self harm

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Yarls Wood staff suspended after undercover investigation

A worker at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre has been suspended after a guard was secretly filmed calling inmates “caged animals”. The investigation into the centre in Bedfordshire, which is run by private firm Serco, also raised concerns about self-harm by inmates. The footage was filmed by an undercover reporter for Channel 4 News. Serco… Continue Reading

Shocking Prison Officer undercover footage: “Let them slash their wrists”

An undercover investigation has revealed a shocking culture of racism, sexism and threats of violence in Britain’s most notorious detention centre. Footage recorded in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre reveals that desperate prisoners threw themselves down a staircase in apparent attempts to commit suicide. In one of the most shocking incidents uncovered by the investigation… Continue Reading

Corrupt Serco staff drove round in Bentley’s and Ferarris court told

A Prison Officer from Slough employed at a Serco-run immigration centre justified leaking stories to The Sun by claiming the company turned a “blind eye” to corruption as colleagues drove around in Bentleys and Ferraris, a court heard. While he was employed as a Prisoner Custody Officer at Colnbrook secure immigration removal centre, Mark Blake… Continue Reading

New Yarl’s Wood Serco Decision Slammed

A decision to allow outsourcing giant Serco to continue running a controversial Bedfordshire immigration detention centre for women that has been subject to claims of sexual misconduct by staff has been condemned by campaigners for asylum-seekers’ rights. Yarl’s Wood faced heavy criticism by human rights campaigners amid reports of sexual misconduct by staff, women being… Continue Reading

Serco criticised over Doncaster Prison

A privately-run prison, HMP Doncaster, has been heavily criticised for locking up inmates in cells without electricity or running water for more than two days. The prison, which is run by security giant Serco, is the latest jail to be slammed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) after inspectors found its “performance was in… Continue Reading