HMP Bronzefield was a well-led prison with committed staff and had continued to improve, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in West London.
HMP Bronzefield is a women’s local prison run by Sodexo Justice Services. It holds up to 527 women including those remanded by the courts, those serving short sentences and a number serving life. Ages of prisoners range from 18 to over 70. It is one of two prisons that holds restricted status women, deemed to require special management due to the level of risk they present or the notoriety of their offences. The catchment area of the prison is huge and the mix of women held continues to present a blend of complexity and vulnerability. Over 40% of prisoners indicated they had a problem with drugs and 66% said they had emotional wellbeing or mental health problems. The proportion of women reporting these types of problems was significantly higher than at the last inspection in 2013. It was encouraging to see that the prison had continued the improvement inspectors reported on after the 2013 inspection.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- arrangements to support women on arrival and during their early days at the prison were good and for those with substance misuse problems, some of the best inspectors have seen;
- processes to keep women safe and to deal with high levels of self-harm and vulnerability were well developed;
- work had improved with the small number of women who had very challenging and sometimes dangerous behaviour and vulnerabilities, including personality disorder and mental health conditions. While there were still concerns about two women who had been managed in the separation and care unit for over two years, the specialist input to manage their progression was good and would be developed further with interventions addressing personality disorder;
- security was proportionate and the use of force was not excessive;
- the environment was very good, and care was taken to keep the prison decent;
- staff-prisoner relationships were very good and work to support the diverse range of women held was good;
- the mother and baby unit provided excellent care and support;
- resettlement work had improved significantly and excellent support was now provided for those women who had been abused, trafficked or were sex workers; and
- offender management work was better than inspectors usually see and public protection arrangements were robust.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- the quality of teaching and learning remained too variable and outcomes in the key area of functional skills (including maths and English) needed to be better; and
- despite little violence and few serious incidents, many women still complained that they had felt unsafe at some time and had been victimised by both other prisoners and staff, and more needed to be done to reassure women about safety.
Martin Lomas said:
“HMP Bronzefield was a very good and improved prison. Outcomes for the highly complex population were at least reasonably good or better in all our healthy prison tests, with the quality of respect and work to resettle prisoners particularly strong. It is a credit to the very capable leadership within the prison, and the committed and motivated staff group that the challenges they face continue to be met in such a positive and caring way.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“This is a very positive report and I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the excellent work of prison staff which has led to improvement in all aspects of work at Bronzefield.
“The Director and her team can be proud of their achievements. Bronzefield provides a safe decent regime focused on rehabilitation and effective resettlement to reduce reoffending and to keep the public safe.”
Notes to editors:
- A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 13 April 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons