Yarls Wood: “A Place of National Concern”

Yarls Wood
Yarls Wood

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 their cases.

In one case a woman had been held for 17 months.

The prisons watchdog also found the centre is understaffed and healthcare services have declined “severely”

Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, called for “decisive action” to ensure women are only detained as “a last resort”.

He said: “Yarl’s Wood is rightly a place of national concern. Other well-respected bodies have recently called for time limits on administrative detention, and the concerns we have identified provide strong support for these calls.”

Yarl’s Wood, which held 354 detainees at the time of inspections in April and May, has been beset by problems since it opened in 2001.

The last inspection in June 2013 concluded that the facility was improving, but Mr Hardwick said it has deteriorated.

The assessment by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) found:

:: There are too many men working at the centre, which holds mainly women.

:: Care planning for women with complex needs is so poor that it put them at risk and pharmacy services are “chaotic”.

:: Staff entered women’s rooms without knocking.

:: Violent incidents have increased, with the number of reported assaults trebling in a year.

:: Almost half of female detainees (45%) said they feel “unsafe” due to the uncertainty of their immigration status, poor healthcare and having too few visible staff.

:: Four women reported instances of sexually inappropriate comments from staff, one reported “sexual contact” and one reported comments, contact and abuse in a survey. However, in separate interviews, no women said they were aware of staff being involved in any illegal activity of sexual abuse. HMIP said it did not find evidence of widespread abuse.

:: Most uses of force on detainees were “proportionate” but inspectors raised concerns about an incident in which an officer repeatedly struck at least two women with his shield as staff attempted to remove a detainee.

Inspectors raised particular concerns about the length of time some women were held for and the detention of vulnerable inmates “without clear reason”.

At the time of the inspection, 15 detainees had been held for between six months and a year, and four for more than a year.

Even though the Home Office’s own policy states that pregnant women should not normally be detained, 99 were held at Yarl’s Wood in 2014. Only nine were ultimately removed from the UK.

In the previous six months, 894 women were released back into the community – more than double the number (443) who were removed from the UK.

The report said this “raises questions about the validity of their detention in the first place”.

There were some positive findings. HMIP said the facility was clean, most detainees said staff treated them with respect, while recreational facilities and access to the internet were good.

Mr Hardwick said most staff “work hard to mitigate the worst effects of detention”, adding: “We should not make the mistake of blaming this on the staff on the ground.”

Maurice Wren, chief executive of Refugee Council, called for Yarl’s Wood to be closed.

He added: “The fact that people fleeing war and persecution are being locked away indefinitely in a civilised country is an affront to the values of liberty and compassion that we proudly regard as the cornerstones of our democracy.”

Serco, which has operated Yarl’s Wood since 2007, said it was “working very hard” to increase female staff numbers.

Julie Rogers, of Serco, which has operated Yarl’s Wood since 2007, added: “We are pleased that in (the report), they found that four out of five residents said that ‘staff treated them with respect’ and that they, ‘did not find evidence of a widespread abusive or hostile culture amongst staff’.”

John Shaw, of G4S, which provides health services, said the firm is “reconfiguring” the service to address a “growing number of more complex medical requirements” at the centre.

He said: “We have prioritised providing primary care and I am encouraged that inspectors have found that access to those services is good.

“There are now more GP hours delivered at the centre than ever before and no detainee waits more than three days for a non-emergency appointment.

“We are committed to working closely with the NHS to raise the standard of service at Yarl’s Wood and improve results for those who require medical care.”

An NHS England spokeswoman said it has been working closely with G4S to “ensure that rapid progress is made to achieve the high standards which we expect”.

She added they have “action plans” in place to address the concerns raised during a recent inspection and they will be reviewed in the light of the new report.

The NHS England spokeswoman added: “We are committed to ensuring patients can receive both the physical and mental health care they need when required at this centre.”

HMP Littlehey – well-led but greater focus on reducing reoffending needed

HMP Littlehey
HMP Littlehey

HMP Littlehey had managed its change in population very well, but now needed to do more to reduce the risks of reoffending of its new prisoner population, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the Cambridgeshire jail.

HMP Littlehey holds 1,200 adult category C sex offenders. At its last inspection in 2011, the prison was a split site holding adult category C prisoners, including sex offenders, in one part of the prison and young adults in a separate part. In 2014 the young adults were transferred to other establishments and were replaced by sex offenders from prisons less able to deal with their offending behaviour needs. This was a fundamental change as the young adults were replaced by a new population with very different offence backgrounds, many of whom were ageing and in poor health. The prison also had to cope with the national benchmarking process (a resources review) twice – once for its old population and once for its new. The prison was managing these changes and pressures very well.

The replacement of young adults by sex offenders meant that safety and respect issues had become less critical and greater priority now needed to be given to ensuring sufficient work, training and education was available and that offender management processes met the requirements of the new population.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the prison was very safe and there were few violent incidents;
  • prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm were generally well supported;
  • arrangements for safeguarding vulnerable adults were among the best inspectors have seen and preparation for implementation of the Care Act was well advanced;
  • the availability of illegal drugs was lower than elsewhere and support for prisoners with substance misuse issues was generally good;
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were a real strength;
  • health services were responding effectively to the growing needs of an ageing population;
  • time out of cell was reasonable for most prisoners and the range of activity that was available was good;

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • too little work, training and education was accredited and outcomes were not good enough;
  • offender management and resettlement needed to improve and some offender supervisors did not have the skills or motivation to work with this group of offenders;
  • too many wing staff saw prisoners as a compliant group without appreciating the wider risks to the community that some would pose on release; and
  • practical resettlement services were adequate, but were due to be decommissioned when the new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) began work shortly after the inspection and it was not clear how low- and medium-risk prisoners would be managed in future.

Nick Hardwick said:

“HMP Littlehey is a well-led prison and managers and staff should be commended on the way they have managed the substantial changes they have had to deal with. At the time of the inspection, this was still work in progress. Safety and respect were now good and necessary plans to develop the quality and quantity of activity available were progressing well. Improving the quantity and level of qualifications that prisoners were able to obtain needed to form a large part of this. The prison needs to step up its efforts to adjust its offender management processes to meet the needs of its new population, and to ensure that all those who work in the prison see it as their job to help reduce the risk that these prisoners will reoffend after release. That is not yet the case and needs to be the priority going forward.”

Phil Copple, Director of Public Sector Prisons, said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted that staff at HMP Littlehey have managed the recent population changes so well, and that relationships with prisoners are strong. This is crucial to successful rehabilitation.

“As the report highlights, Littlehey is a safe prison, with low levels of violence and drug use – this is a credit to the governor and his staff. They will now rise to the challenge of progressing the Chief Inspector’s recommendations and improve Littlehey even further.”

Notes to editors:    

  1. Read the report.
  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 Littlehey is an adult male category C sex offender establishment.
  4. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 2-13 March 2015.
  5. Please contact Barbara Buchanan at HMI Prisons on 020 3681 2772 if you would like more information or to arrange an interview.

HMP Wandsworth – deterioration due to staff shortages and overcrowding

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

Overcrowding and severe staff shortages meant that almost every service at HMP Wandsworth was insufficient to meet the needs of the prison population, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the south London local prison.

HMP Wandsworth is a Victorian category B prison with a category C resettlement unit. It was unacceptably overcrowded. It held 1,630 adult men, more than any other in the UK, and almost 70% more than its certified normal accommodation of 963. The population had grown and changed since the prison’s last inspection in 2013. The prison had been designated a foreign national prisoner hub and held over 700 foreign nationals. The category B prisoners were typical of inner city local prisons, with a high incidence of mental health and substance abuse problems. Category C prisoners had needed work, education and training opportunities. Severe staffing shortages compromised the prison’s ability to meet the needs of either group. Since the last inspection, staffing levels had been reduced by about 100 across all grades. This was compounded by difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • despite the efforts of staff, processes to keep prisoners safe lacked resilience;
  • there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection and there were two further deaths in the months after the inspection, one an apparent homicide;
  • levels of self-harm were relatively low but the quality of support was inconsistent;
  • the excellent arrangements to identify, manage and reduce violence that inspectors found at the 2013 inspection had lapsed;
  • landings were unstaffed for long periods and this created potential for violence to take place unchallenged;
  • most prisoners were doubled up in small cells designed for one;
  • the third of prisoners who were unemployed usually spent 23 hours a day locked in their cells;
  • staff shortages meant association periods were restricted and inconsistent so prisoners were unable to use phones or showers;
  • health services had deteriorated, mainly because of staff shortages and there were unacceptably long delays in transferring men out to secure mental health facilities;
  • there were insufficient activity places for the population and attendance at those available was poor;
  • offender management was in disarray, with severe staff shortages and disorganisation creating a backlog of risk assessment and weaknesses in public protection arrangements; and
  • practical resettlement arrangements were very mixed.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • first night cells were generally well prepared and the prison relied heavily on a team of prisoner insiders to help new prisoners settle in;
  • security measures were proportionate and measures to restrict the supply of illegal drugs were more effective than comparable prisons;
  • the external environment was clean and in good repair, showing the efforts the prison was making; and
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were mostly courteous but staff shortages severely reduced the capacity of staff to interact with prisoners.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Overcrowding and severe staff shortages had led to deteriorating outcomes at HMP Wandsworth. It was not simply a matter of prisoners spending practically all day confined in shared cells the Victorians had designed for one – unacceptable though that was. Overcrowding, combined with severe staff shortages meant that almost every service was insufficient to meet the needs of the population.

“Managers and staff in the prison deserve credit for preventing the prison from deteriorating further, but it was not a surprise that some managers and staff were demoralised and others were clearly exhausted. Not all the problems at Wandsworth were a result of the population and resource pressures and this report identifies important areas the prison itself can and should address. Nevertheless, the Prison Service nationally will need to address the mismatch between a prison’s available resources and the size and needs of its population. Unless this is addressed, prisons will struggle to hold men safely and decently and to reassure the public that effective work has been done to reduce the risk that prisoners will reoffend and create more victims after release.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“This inspection took place at a time when staffing numbers at Wandsworth had dropped below budgeted levels because of a sharp unplanned increase in staff turnover. Action has been taken to support Wandsworth with additional staff from other Prison Service establishments and the gaol is now providing a limited but decent and consistent regime.

“As the Chief Inspector makes clear – there is more to do to achieve the level of purposeful activity and regime required to effectively support prisoners and help reduce reoffending. Recruitment of new staff is underway and we are determined to improve outcomes at Wandsworth both for prisoners and for the public over the coming 12 months. We will use the recommendations in this inspection report to support that process.”

Notes to editors:

1. Read the report.
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 Wandsworth is a category B local male prison with a category C resettlement unit.
4. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 23 February – 6 March 2015.
5. Please contact Barbara Buchanan (HMI Prisons) on 020 3681 2772 if you would like more information or to request an interview.

Brinsford: A prison transformed

brinsfordThe progress made at HMYOI Brinsford was impressive and staff are to be congratulated, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the young offender institution near Wolverhampton.

HMYOI Brinsford holds young adult men aged 18 to 21. After its last inspection in November 2013, the Chief Inspector of Prisons described the findings as the worst identified during his tenure. This second announced inspection, 15 months later, found an establishment that had systematically addressed the inspectorate’s recommendations and was transformed. The establishment had prioritised safety and respect, which were also the essential foundations for improvements in work, training and education and resettlement, in which further progress was still required.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • arrangements for receiving young men into Brinsford and looking after them in the early days, a high-risk time, had improved greatly and were very good;
  • incidents of self-harm had reduced by a third and care for prisoners in crisis was good;
  • the prison had a much more accurate picture of levels of violence, and while the number of recorded violent incidents had increased, and was too high, much of the violence was low level;
  • a wing on one of the units had been designated as a supported living unit to provide a safe environment for those most vulnerable because of bullying;
  • use of force had increased but was used correctly, while the use of segregation had fallen sharply;
  • the prison was tackling the supply and demand for drugs;
  • security was proportionate to the level of risk;
  • substance misuse services had improved markedly and were now very good;
  • external areas were spotlessly clean, a programme of refurbishment was underway and cells were now in good condition;
  • with a few exceptions, prisoners had good time out of cell; and
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were also now very good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • improvements in purposeful activity were less well advanced, and although there were now adequate activity places to meet the needs of the population, attendance was poor;
  • teaching was inconsistent and achievements were low;
  • resettlement services required most development –offender management was undermined by the frequent redeployment of staff to meet other needs in the prison; and
  • there was a backlog of risk assessments and some public protection processes were weak.

Nick Hardwick said:

“The response of managers and staff in the prison to the challenge I made after our 2013 inspection has been impressive and more progress than we dared hope for has been made. The scale of the problems facing Brinsford was such that there still remains a great deal to do. Some of the improvements we saw were very recent and not yet fully embedded. There should be no room for complacency. Nevertheless, those involved should be congratulated on the progress they have made, which has served the young men held at Brinsford, the staff who work with them and the communities into which they will be released well.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Read the report.
  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. HMYOI Brinsford is a young offender institution and remand centre for young adult male prisoners aged 18 to 21.
  4. This announced inspection was carried out from 16-20 February 2015.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HM Inspectorate of Prisons Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview.

Conditions at Pentonville prison deteriorating, says chief inspector


Nick Hardwick blames ‘failure of management’ at jail where drugs are easily available, cells are filthy, blood-stained, and some inmates are locked up 23 hours a day

Staff at Pentonville prison failed to do anything about bloodstained cells and beds even when inspectors raised concerns with them during an official visit this year, their report has revealed.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, says in the report published today that conditions at the Victorian jail in north London have deteriorated even further since he questioned its future viability at his previous inspection 17 months ago.

The inspectors say they saw new prisoners put into filthy cells with no eating utensils, toiletries or adequate bedding, and being told to clean them up themselves.

Hardwick says violence has almost doubled at Pentonville since his last inspection and conditions for inmates are amongst the poorest in England and Wales. Drugs are easily available, cells are filthy and some inmates are locked up in them for as much as 23 hours a day. More than 1,300 inmates are crammed into cells designed to hold 900.

He blames “a failure of management and leadership” at Pentonville for the very poor standards and poor staff culture at the jail: “The prison needs a firmer grip and a persuasive plan that will ensure immediate deliverable and sustained improvements, as well as a more considered medium-term plan that will determine whether the prison has a future,” he said.

The report of the official inspection carried out in February says the ongoing problems of recruiting staff to work at the prison had an impact on many parts.

“Outside areas were appalling and prisoners complained of an infestation of vermin and cockroaches,” says their report. “Despite a clean-up early in the inspection, some areas remained in a dreadful state, and there were extensive amounts of food debris and piles of clothing on ridges and security wire.”

The inspectors say they saw many dirty cells across many wings of the prison and some cells had windows that would not close leaving them freezing cold: “Empty cells were not routinely prepared for occupation and were often left in a filthy state, with the new occupant expected to clean it. On one occasion we found prisoners located in a cell with blood on the walls and door, and on another occasion with blood on the bunk bed; on neither occasion was the blood cleaned up when we raised our concerns with staff.”

Michael Spurr, the chief executive officer of the national offender management service, visited Pentonville on Friday to review its progress: “The prison was ordered, more stable and much cleaner than previously. The physical conditions remain challenging but we are committed to further developing the regime for prisoners and I am confident when inspectors return next year they will find a much improved prison.”

He said that since the inspection in February a recovery plan had been put in place, staffing levels increased and the management strengthened.

But Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said:

“This is only to be expected in a prison system that has seen prison officer numbers in England and Wales cut by over 30 per cent in the last four years, and with £900million – or 24% – cut from its budgets since 2010.

“These cuts coincide with a deepening prison overcrowding crisis and an alarming rise in the number of self-inflicted deaths in custody.

“Pentonville, which operates as a local prison, is struggling to cope with numbers it was never designed to house, in an era it was never intended to see, and with a government and a public who for the most part really couldn’t care less.

“No one expects prisons to be holiday camps and they’re not, but equally would you be happy for your loved one, your father, brother or son, remanded, unconvicted of any crime, to be housed in shocking conditions like this?”

Belmarsh much improved but more to do

The Prisons Handbook 2015 – out now  /  Home Page  /  Converse Prison Newspaper



HMP Belmarsh was much improved, but progress was not yet embedded and some major challenges remained, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the high security core local prison in south east London.

HMP Belmarsh held men serving a range of sentences. Some were relatively low risk prisoners with the range of needs typical to other local prisons, but a significant minority had been sentenced to long, determinate sentences, and over 100 men were serving indeterminate sentences or life. The high security unit (HSU) held a small number of the most high risk prisoners. The prison had recently begun to hold remanded young adults who would previously have been held in young offender institutions. This was a complicated population to manage.

The last inspection in 2013 found that stringent security arrangements were impacting disproportionately on all prisoners held, regardless of the risks they posed. At this inspection it was encouraging to see that the prison had made significant progress in striking a better balance between security required to manage risks presented by prisoners, and running a safe and decent establishment that could provide purposeful and rehabilitative opportunities to reduce the risks they posed after release.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • arrangements and support for prisoners at reception and in their first few days at the prison were good;
  • the safer custody team and chaplaincy ensured good support for prisoners vulnerable to self-harm;
  • the segregation unit environment was much improved;
  • problematic drug use was low and substance use support services were very good;
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were much improved;
  • resettlement work was strong, with some excellent practical support;
  • time out of cells had improved; and
  • public protection work was strong and a good range of offending behaviour programmes was offered.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • although levels of violence were not high, many prisoners still reported feeing unsafe and victimised;
  • young adults were disproportionately involved in violent incidents;
  • Muslim prisoners and those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were more likely to report that they felt unsafe and the prison needed to do more to understand and address this;
  • many men still lived and ate their meals in poor, overcrowded double cells which held three people;
  • further improvement was required to develop learning and skills to an acceptable standard;
  • the HSU remained a limited environment and more thought needed to be given to managing those men on the main wings; and
  • some aspects of offender management work needed to improve.

Nick Hardwick said:

“HMP Belmarsh had much improved since our last visit. Outcomes were better in all key areas and this had been achieved without compromising security. Prisoners and staff we spoke to were positive about the changes that were being made. However, many of the improvements were recent and not yet fully embedded, and some major challenges remained. The prison needed to do more to understand levels of violence and fears about safety, especially among minority groups. Although learning, skills and work was improving and a new provider was starting work, there was much to do, particularly in terms of expanding the range of activities to meet the needs of the population. Similarly, while deficiencies in offender management had been recognised and were being addressed, improvements were still at a very early stage. The role and function of the high security unit needed a fundamental review. We found that the prison had credible plans to address all these issues and embed the progress that had already been made. We hope this report will assist with that process.”

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

I am pleased that the Chief Inspector highlights the significant progress made at Belmarsh over the last 18 months.”

“The prison holds some very dangerous individuals but the Governor and his team have worked hard to improve outcomes for prisoners whilst maintaining the security levels necessary to prevent escape and keep the public safe.”

“As the report makes clear, there is more to do – particularly in expanding purposeful activity and improving education outcomes.”

“The Governor has clear plans in place to further develop the prison and will use the recommendations in this report to support that process.”

Read the Report here

G4S Young Offenders: “degrading and racist treatment” say Inspectors

The Prisons Handbook 2015 – out now  /  Home Page  /  Converse Prison Newspaper



Young offenders at a secure centre near Rugby were subjected to degrading treatment and racist comments and were cared for by staff who were under the influence of drugs, a damning Ofsted report has found.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) has been declared inadequate by the watchdog, after inspectors found a catalogue of failings including “serious incidents of gross misconduct” by some workers.

In some cases, there were delays in young people receiving vital medical treatment, Ofsted said, while nurses did not routinely attended promptly when an offender was being restrained.

There was also a high number of assaults recorded at Rainsbrook, which is run by G4S, over a six-month period, and youngsters were more likely to say that they had felt threatened by other young people or experienced insulting comments than at other STCs.

In a statement, G4S said it recognised that incidents highlighted by inspectors were “completely unacceptable” and insisted it took swift action at the time.

Rainsbrook is one of three STCs across the country and caters to a maximum 87 12 to 18-year-olds who have been given a custodial sentence or are on remand.

Ofsted found a “mixed picture” in how young offenders at the centre were cared for and helped to improve their behaviour.

“Since the last inspection there have been serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership,” inspectors concluded.

“Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs. A finding of contraband DVDs in the centre is likely to be attributable to staff smuggling these in and raises a concern that young people were allowed to view inappropriate material they should not have been.

“It also raises a concern that some staff may have colluded with young people to elicit compliance by wholly inappropriate means. Senior managers are unable to reassure inspectors that this is not the case.”

G4S said that the DVDs were certificate 15 discs.

The report says that poor care was made worse by “poor decision making by senior managers”, which led to “delays in young people receiving essential medical diagnosis and treatment”.

“On a number of occasions clear clinical advice was overruled by non-health qualified senior managers. Because of this one young person did not receive treatment for a fracture for approximately 15 hours.”

It later said it was a “serious shortfall” that nurses did not routinely attend restraints promptly to ensure the safety and welfare of youngsters

More than half of offenders at the centre surveyed by Ofsted (56%) said they had faced insulting remarks from other young people, with a further 28% saying they had felt intimidated and threatened at some point.

During the six months before the inspection, there was an average of eight assaults a month – considered high – as well as 27 fights across the same six-month period.

Inspectors did find that while staff were given advice, disciplined or dismissed in some cases, in a few there were “unacceptable and inexplicable delays” in removing staff pending further investigation or an outcome that was too lenient.

“Many members of staff including night staff on the residential units have detailed knowledge about the young people in their care and show a commitment towards their welfare,” the report later says.

“However, these positive relationships have to be seen in the context of a centre where young people have experienced several serious incidents of unacceptable staff behaviour since the previous inspection. This includes collusion with young people in the settling of debts, poor application of restraint, drug taking and racism.”

Ofsted did find that education at Rainsbrook is good, with offenders enjoying learning.

A G4S spokesman said: “This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook and it’s the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

“We recognise that the incidents highlighted by inspectors were completely unacceptable and took swift action at the time, in discussion with the Youth Justice Board (YJB).”

He added that the YJB has expressed confidence in the firm’s plan to address concerns.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “Overall, we were very concerned about what we found at Rainsbrook. There had been a number of incidents that caused distress and humiliation to the young people involved. Some of those incidents included staff in leadership roles and there was not a sufficiently robust response by managers to some of the cases.”

A G4S spokesman insisted that children are always sent out of the centre if there is an indication that they require treatment not provided by the NHS team on site.

He added: “All those involved in the incidents of poor care highlighted in the report have already been subject to disciplinary action and are no longer working at the centre.”

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Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “Overall, we were very concerned about what we found at Rainsbrook. There had been a number of incidents that caused distress and humiliation to the young people involved. Some of those incidents included staff in leadership roles and there was not a sufficiently robust response by managers to some of the cases.”

A G4S spokesman insisted that children are always sent out of the centre if there is an indication that they require treatment not provided by the NHS team on site.

He added: “All those involved in the incidents of poor care highlighted in the report have already been subject to disciplinary action and are no longer working at the centre.”

Swansea prison “ignoring death in custody advice” say inspectors

Swansea Prison
Swansea Prison

Swansea jail settled but the prison was complacent about serious incidents of self harm and in a prison with four self inflicted deaths since the last inspection the prison was ignoring advice about fatal incidents from the Prisons Ombudsman

Inspectors said:

HMP Swansea is a local prison serving the courts of South Wales and holding up to 455 adult and young adult male prisoners. With an inner city location and on a compact site, the prison is a typical traditional Victorian establishment, although there are two newer wings. We last undertook a full inspection in 2010, when we found a prison that had achieved reasonably good outcomes.
A brief follow up visit in late 2012 found that progress in the implementation of our recommendations was mixed. At this latest inspection outcomes for prisoners were also mixed. Swansea prison had a number of significant advantages. It had a full complement of staff who were all fairly settled and experienced. The prison was also of a manageable size with a defined role.
Its situation ensured significant connection with the community and prisoners, who were mostly local, were pleased to be held close to home. The prison was a reasonably safe place. Prisoners were treated reasonably well on arrival although induction of new arrivals needed to be better. Violent incidents were few and in our survey prisoners reported positively about their perceptions of their own safety. Our own observations suggested a settled institution, although there was evidence to suggest work to tackle bullying and supporting victims needed greater rigour.
Sadly there had been four self-inflicted deaths since our last full inspection, although only one of these had occurred in the last two years. The number of self-harm incidents was low, but some incidents were serious and there was evidence of some complacency in the prison’s approach to this important issue. We were not assured that enquiries into incidents were thorough and the prison was not acting on recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman following his investigation into these deaths. The case management documentation of those in crisis was poor but prisoners in crisis told us they felt cared for.
The prison faced a number of security challenges, in particular confronting the issue of illicit drugs which could easily be thrown over the prison wall. Mandatory drug testing showed that the prison was just within its target but there was evidence of significant spikes in activity throughout the year. More prisoners than at comparator establishments thought it was easy to get drugs into the prison.
The prison was compact, and maintaining environmental standards was difficult, but the external and communal areas were reasonably well kept. However, accommodation was varied: much of it was overcrowded or in a poor state of repair. Insufficient furniture, access to showers, the provision of kit and other basic amenities all needed improvement. The quality of relationships between staff and prisoners remained good but there was evidence that prisoners felt less respected than previously.
Arrangements to ensure that the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners were used purposefully – for example, the personal officer scheme – were ineffective. Work to support, monitor and promote equality and diversity was poor. Prisoners from minority groups were not systematically identified, the investigation of incidents was inadequate, and provision for most minority groups was minimal. The amount of time out of cell that prisoners experienced was reasonable and better than we often see at this type of prison, but there were not enough education or training opportunities and many prisoners were not fully occupied.
Overall, the provision of learning and skills had deteriorated. The prison had analysed need and had in place a useful development plan but progress towards delivery was slow. Assessment of learner needs was not comprehensive and work provision was limited. The development of employability skills was lacking and prisoners were not sufficiently prepared for the labour market. Punctuality and attendance also needed to improve. The achievement of qualifications was adequate, but most qualifications were at lower levels with few opportunities for progression.
Resettlement services lacked leadership and direction, which was a concern, as the prison was transitioning to become a resettlement prison. Plans were not sufficiently linked to the prison’s own analysis of need, and structures to support and monitor delivery were inadequate. Many offender assessments, if they were completed at all, lacked depth, and many risk of harm screening and assessments were insufficient. Sentence planning was too generic and contact between prisoners and their supervisors were poor. Work across the resettlement pathways was generally much better, with most prisoners receiving an assessment prior to release and a significant number of prisoners indicating that they believed someone had helped them to prepare for their release. Work to support prisoners and families, delivered in partnership with the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) was very good.
Overall Swansea has many positive features but there are obvious areas for improvement. The prison is settled and has a traditional feel and culture. This could be a strength but care needs to be taken to ensure the prison is not allowed to drift into complacency. Expectations on the part of both staff and prisoners do not appear very high. There is a platform for improvement at Swansea but this is a mixed report. Many of our positive judgements were only marginally so, and the prison needs to be energised, rejuvenated and refocused on delivering better outcomes.

Report is here

Oakwood Prison: High levels of violence and bullying


There are still high levels of bullying at the country’s largest prison, near Wolverhampton, and the use of force is almost double that of similar institutions, a report has found.

Inspectors said the G4S-run HMP Oakwood, which received a damning report two years ago, also has a high number of self-harm incidents.

But HM Inspectorate of Prisons said there have since been “significant improvements” at the prison, which opened in 2012, with the overall level of violence falling and a much “calmer” environment.

In 2013 the category C prison which houses more than 1,500 men was the scene of rooftop protests, while last year there were claims of a “cover up” after trouble broke out on one wing and took nine hours to be resolved.

The findings of the latest inspection, which took place in December, are being published on Wednesday and show general improvements, some of which are attributed to staff becoming more experienced leading to improved relationships between the prisoners and those who work there.

While health services have also improved inspectors said they had been affected by staff shortages.

The report also found that although support for those with substance abuse issues is “very good”, the high levels of bullying are often related to the availability of legal highs and associated debt.

Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said the prison’s difficulties could provide lessons for the future as other establishments are opened.

“There is more to do but the determined way the director and staff have made improvements following significant criticism should be acknowledged,” he said.

“However, the difficulties Oakwood and other new prisons experienced immediately after opening resulted in unacceptable risks and very poor outcomes for the prisoners held at that time. There are plans to open a number of large establishments in the coming years.

“I recommend that ministers undertake and publish a review of the difficulties Oakwood and other new prisons experienced after they opened, and ensure that lessons learned are factored into plans for the opening of other new establishments.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: “I am pleased that the chief inspector has highlighted the significant improvements that have taken place at Oakwood.

“There are challenges involved in opening any new prison and the lessons learnt are always carefully assessed to improve any future processes.

“The director and his staff deserve real credit for their work to establish a safe and decent regime through a strong commitment to reducing violence, supporting vulnerable prisoners and providing better work, training and resettlement opportunities.

“There is still more work to do and the recommendations from this inspection will be used to build on the recent improvements.”

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: “After its first few turbulent years, it’s good to hear that HMP Oakwood has turned the corner at last and is now a safer, more settled establishment.

“Before government races to open more giant jails at rock bottom rates, there are important lessons to learn about the harm done by filling prison places too rapidly, taking on so many inexperienced staff and failing to provide a constructive regime.”

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: “It is welcome news that conditions have improved slightly at Oakwood since the last dreadful inspection took place, but there is still a long way to go until it is up to the standard taxpayers expect of a state of the art prison.

“David Cameron’s Government rushed to award the contract for running this prison to G4S and then pressed the jail into service before it and its prison officers were ready to cope with inmates. This led to many prisoners being released without being rehabilitated properly.

“Given the Government’s plans to push ahead with a super prison in Wrexham, it’s absolutely crucial that the same mistakes aren’t repeated and public safety is not put at risk.”

Jerry Petherick, managing director of G4S custodial and detention services, said: “opening any prison is a complex process and our experience shows that it takes time to develop the experience of staff, fully embed the prison regime and establish links with local partner agencies.

“Today’s report recognises that the hard work of our team at HMP Oakwood is paying off with inspectors finding that the prison has ‘turned the corner’ and expressing confidence in our plans for the future.

“I am particularly encouraged that inspectors acknowledge the innovative programmes we have introduced to work with prisoners to help them confront their negative behaviour and improve safety.

“There is still work to do but we are confident that our investment in technology, infrastructure and training for prison custody officers will continue to strengthen our performance.

“We are committed to working with the Ministry of Justice, local agencies and partners from across the criminal justice system so that the prisoners at Oakwood are better equipped to turn away from crime when they leave.”

Shortcomings in custody care

Nick Hardwick
Nick Hardwick

Court custody in Surrey and Sussex has “serious shortcomings” according to the Chief Inspector of Prisons with problems including the care of children, overcrowding and women detainees being harassed by men in mixed sex prison vehicles.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has found that “no collective action” had been taken to resolve safety issues following a restructuring of the 13 courts that had custody facilities in the two counties.

The National Offender Management Service (Noms) had contracted GEOAmey to provide custody and escort facilities for HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in the two counties.

In 2013 HMCTS had restructured its operations in Surrey and Sussex to handle remand cases in a smaller number of magistrates’ courts, sitting on fewer days.

A HMIP spokesman said: “This had resulted in the cells at those courts being overloaded, with detainees sitting on the floor on one day and all cells being empty the next. Physical conditions varied from good to very poor. Provision of basic toilet facilities, hygiene and cleanliness in some court custody suites was poor.

“The lack of adequate cell capacity and the poor quality of information about risk, health and self-harm which came with detainees from police stations and prisons was a significant risk to staff and detainee welfare.

“Inspectors were also concerned to find that essential information about health conditions was missing, and in one case a cell share had to be reviewed once further information about the detainee’s psychosis had been relayed;

“Efforts made by custody staff to address the needs of children by asking the court to deal with their cases first were undermined by the escort contractor being unable to provide prompt transfers of children to secure training centres and young offender institutions;

“Women and children were transferred in cellular vehicles with male detainees (sometimes with all-male crews), which can result in women being harassed by male detainees; staff used restraints with compliant detainees, including women and children, and lacked the authority to challenge this; few detainees were offered information about their rights in custody.

“There were a few examples of staff taking great care to help vulnerable detainees but these were exceptional and any attempts to provide good care were undermined by the combined effects of the poor physical environment, inadequate information, extreme variations in workload and, at some courts, overcrowding.”

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “We found serious shortcomings in court custody in Surrey and Sussex, particularly in relation to safety, and in the care of children and other vulnerable detainees.

“Responsibilities for custody were split between several organisations that rarely met together, with none having overall responsibility for seeing the entire picture and driving forward urgently needed improvements. We have made a number of recommendations, some to be resolved nationally, to improve the safety and care of people in court custody.”