Committed staff at HMP & YOI Cardiff had maintained stability in the prison during challenging times, but now needed to focus on longer-term improvement, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the category B local training prison.
HMP & YOI Cardiff held around 770 men at the time of its inspection. The prison had become less safe and the physical environment had declined since a previous inspection in 2013. Work to help prisoners resettle back into the community on release had improved and was reasonably good. Overall, inspectors found a mixed picture of progress in a local prison that had faced the same challenges as many other local prisons. Challenges included staff shortages and an increased availability and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), leading to an increase in unpredictable and violent behaviour. The prison had implemented a smoking ban that was unpopular with some. Cardiff also had a high level of reported mental health problems. Despite these challenges, it did not feel unstable and staff-prisoner relationships had been maintained.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- staff-prisoner relationships were good, and those relationships were a key feature of the prison and helped it in facing the challenges;
- health care was generally good, including good provision for those suffering from severe mental health issues;
- there was a good range of work, training and education on offer, though it was not being fully utilised;
- public protection work was sound; and
- resettlement work was done well to meet the needs of the short-sentenced prisoners who formed the large majority of the population.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- more needed to be done to address the supply of illegal drugs into the prison;
- there were rising levels of violence and weak management of key areas such as the use of force;
- some cells were in a poor state and there was a lack of basic facilities, such as bedding; and
- prisoners spent too much time locked in their cells.
Peter Clarke said:
“HMP & YOI Cardiff relied very heavily on a decent, hard-working staff group who had maintained good relationships with the men in their care, and had done well to keep the prison stable through some challenging times. However, for the future, the prison needs to reduce its reliance on key individuals and embed sound working practices and processes into the operation of the establishment, thereby ensuring long-term safety and stability.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector has commended the work of staff at Cardiff. Despite significant operational pressures the prison has continued to deliver a positive regime with good levels of purposeful activity and effective support of prisoners before release.
“There is more to do and action has already been taken to tackle safety including the appointment of a new Violence Reduction Manager to drive forward improvement.”
A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 13 December 2016 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons