HMP Grendon was an important national resource working with some very serious offenders, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training jail and therapeutic community in Buckinghamshire.

HMP Grendon is based on the concept that democratic therapeutic communities, run by both staff and prisoners, should be central to the way every part of the prison operates. Prisoners are given a real say in the day-to-day running of the prison and therefore have more influence over their experience of prison life than at normal prisons. This is within the context of the usual security imperatives of a category B prison holding men sentenced to indeterminate or long sentences. Men arrived at Grendon ready to be more open about their offending and institutional behaviour and to be challenged by peers and staff within therapy and community groups. Grendon was a more demanding environment than many conventional prisons; the process of facing up to and being challenged about behaviour and attitudes was, rightly, very tough. Grendon was a very safe prison.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • entry to custody was well organised, violence reduction and safer custody work was good and the communities played a central part in keeping people safe;
  • there was very little need for formal disciplinary procedures and substance misuse was well controlled;
  • at the core of the prison were excellent staff-prisoner relationships;
  • time out of cell was good;
  • therapy was the primary purposeful and resettlement activity and accounted for a substantial part of the core day;
  • the therapeutic approach helped prisoners to address risk factors and difficulties in coping with institutional life;
  • offender management processes were generally good, as was public protection; and
  • support to help prisoners maintain contact with their families was impressive.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • prisoners who were not in the communities and were waiting for transfer to another prison were isolated and had a poorer regime, and potentially less safe;
  • support for disabled prisoners needed to improve;
  • the night sanitation system, though more functional than at previous inspections, was still undesirable; and
  • the prison needed to improve learning and skills to ensure it supported therapy.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Grendon used to be an anomaly in the prison system and its future always felt insecure. However, the new national offender personality disorder pathway identified a clear role for Grendon and other therapeutic prisons and promised a much more coordinated process for allocating prisoners to the establishment and promptly moving them back to a suitable place in the main prison system once their time at Grendon was over. The benefits of the new strategy have yet to be realised but there is now the real prospect that Grendon’s value as an important national resource, working successfully with some of the system’s most serious offenders, will be fully realised. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.”

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

“I am very pleased that the Chief Inspector has acknowledged the good work being done at Grendon.

“It is a very safe prison with excellent staff-prisoner relationships and a therapeutic approach that is helping to rehabilitate a complex population.

“The Governor and his team continue to build on their progress and will take forward the recommendations from the report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:

HMP Norwich: Improvements but more to do


HMP Norwich had improved in some important areas but much remained to do, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of the local Norfolk jail.

HMP Norwich is an overcrowded local prison holding a complex mix of remand and sentenced prisoners and young adults. The prison was split across three distinct sites with different functions. Most prisoners were held on the ‘reception’ site which acted as a local prison for mainly remanded and category B prisoners. The Local Discharge Unit (LDU), outside the main perimeter, held category C prisoners and some specialist functions. Britannia House, also outside the main perimeter, was a resettlement unit for category D prisoners. The last inspection in January 2012 identified some serious concerns and inspectors returned to check progress more quickly than usual.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • vulnerable prisoners had been moved from the threatening environment on A wing and most were now held in a better and calmer environment on C wing and had a better regime;
  • the number of violent incidents and the use of force had fallen;
  • the number of prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm who were being managed on open ACCTs (assessment, care in custody and teamwork case management) had fallen;
  • the segregation unit offered a better environment;
  • the care and management of older prisoners and young adults was better than inspectors normally see;
  • prisoners had more time out of cell and there were more activity places available; and
  • there had been improvements in the quantity and quality of learning, skills and work since the last inspection, though more was required.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • the numbers of prisoners on open ACCTs, though reduced, was still high and care was inadequate in too many cases;
  • prisoners who were the victims of bullying felt unsupported and inspectors found some prisoners too frightened to leave their cells;
  • the prison was not sighted on the true levels of violence and bullying;
  • problems were most acute on A wing which acted as a first night and induction centre and a centre for those receiving treatment for drug and alcohol misuse;
  • many prisoners on open ACCTs were held on A wing and staffing levels were completely inadequate to manage the mixed population safely;
  • prisoner mentors were being used to conduct sensitive first night interviews with new arrivals, which was dangerous and open to abuse;
  • staff were stretched across the prison and prisoners sometimes struggled to get basic issues, such as mail, sorted out;
  • many prisoners assessed as having poor literacy and numeracy were unwilling to address this; and
  • offender management was not central to the work of the prison, though most practical resettlement services were adequate.

Nick Hardwick said:

“HMP Norwich has made progress since our last inspection. The treatment and conditions of prisoners was satisfactory and they had good practical help to prepare them for release. The treatment of older prisoners and young adults was very good. Prisoners in Britannia House had very good opportunities to obtain and keep a job on release. However, there were still too many exceptions: not enough prisoners had an activity place, too many services were inconsistent and, of most concern, A wing was not safe. The issues on A wing need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and we hope this report will help the prison to do this and to make the sustained improvements required.”

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

“Norwich is a complex prison and I am pleased that this report acknowledges the progress it has made, which is to the credit of the Governor and his staff.

“As the Chief Inspector points out there is more to do – and the Governor has taken action to address these issues, particularly on A Wing.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:

Offenders with learning disabilities being ignored say inspectors


The needs of many people with learning disabilities are going unnoticed when they are arrested by police, go to court and are sentenced, according to independent inspectors. They have published the report of a joint inspection into people with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system which said their needs should be recognised and addressed.

The report, A joint inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system: phase 1 from arrest to sentence, reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the Care Quality Commission. The inspection covered activity at police stations, the prosecution and court process, pre-sentence report preparation and the assessment and planning undertaken at the start of the community order.

No clear definition or agreement exists across criminal justice and health organisations about what constitutes learning difficulties or disabilities. Although believed to be a sizeable minority, possibly as high as 30%, there is no way of knowing the number of people with such conditions within the criminal justice system. Adequate provision is, consequently, not always made by the agencies involved to cater for their specific needs.

Inspectors were concerned to find

  • little had changed by way of effective screening of detainees with a learning disability at the police arrest stage;
  • few medical or psychiatric professionals were specifically trained to work with people with learning disabilities in police custody suites;
  • a lack of knowledge and training led to offenders with a learning disability being perceived as a problem to be processed rather than an individual with particular needs requiring individual help;
  • too often, offenders with learning disabilities were not receiving the support they required to reduce their risk of harm to others or their likelihood of reoffending;
  • in some areas police custody sergeants said appropriate adults were not always available to assist with cases;
  • only one of the police forces inspectors visited had a mechanism to divert offenders from custody before arrest on the grounds of identified mental health problems or a learning disability;
  • in other areas, diversion schemes were implemented within the court building rather than before or at arrest. Earlier interventions might have avoided the need for a costly and stressful court process in some cases;
  • in two-thirds of the cases inspected, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was not provided at key stages with information regarding the offender’s learning disability; although all the decisions examined were correct, this information is vital to ensure they are properly informed; and
  • pre-sentence reports were not always based on an appropriate risk/needs assessment and in the majority of cases, the assessment emphasised the offender’s need rather than any risk they may have posed to the public. As a result, these offenders were sometimes denied access to interventions to address their offending.

In his review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system, published in 2009, Lord Bradley suggested that ‘the police stage in the offender pathway provides the greatest opportunity to effect change’. The recent government announcement confirming the decision to extend the provision of mental health and learning disability nurses to police stations and courts in ten pilot areas is a positive development.

The chief inspectors made recommendations for improvement for police forces, the CPS, the Department of Health and NHS England (Health and Justice), probation trusts, and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. These recommendations included the criminal justice agencies jointly adopting a definition of learning disability, ensuring information is shared and making effective screening tools available in custody suites.

HM Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service and Chair of the Criminal Justice Chief Inspectors Group, Michael Fuller QPM, said on behalf of all inspectorates:

“Although we found some excellent examples of professionals going the extra mile to ensure that individual offenders with learning disabilities received the appropriate support they required, such instances were exceptional and these deficits were mirrored across the criminal justice system.

“A balance needs to be struck between the support needs of those with learning disabilities and the need to hold them to account, where appropriate, for their offending. If offender engagement is to have any real meaning it has to start with an understanding of the offender’s learning ability and style based on an effective screening of all offenders.

“For those with a learning disability this is even more important as failure to identify and address their needs denies them their right to access services both inside and outside the criminal justice system.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website at:

HMP Holme House – real strengths but concerns remain


HMP Holme House had made some solid improvements but needed to go further, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the local jail near Stockton-on-Tees.

Holme House is a large prison holding around 1,150 prisoners. Its last inspection in 2010 was broadly positive although the prison faced significant challenges. This more recent inspection was similar. Findings were largely positive with some significant exceptions, exacerbated by the disruption arising from the implementation of the prison service ‘benchmarking’ exercise.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • levels of violence were low and most prisoners felt safe;
  • the care for prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide and self-harm was good and there were few self-harm incidents;
  • the use of force was low;
  • there had been some improvements in tackling the misuse of drugs but these needed to be sustained;
  • staff-prisoner relationships had improved considerably;
  • mental health services were very good and most officers had been trained in mental health awareness;
  • most prisoners were involved in work, training or education throughout the day and the ‘working prison’ operated in four workshops; and
  • resettlement agencies worked hard to identify and help prisoners to prepare for release, assisting them with housing, job-related, health care and substance misuse issues.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • there had been five self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection and what appear to be two further self-inflicted deaths since this inspection;
  • although care for those identified at risk of self-harm was good, there was a danger that poor first night safety arrangements meant that those who needed support might be missed;
  • first night cells were dirty with broken equipment and there was little support from staff or prisoner mentors for those new to prison;
  • many cells were dirty, toilets were inadequately screened and some prisoners shared cells designed for one which were too small;
  • laundry arrangements were chaotic and there were insufficient phones and showers; and
  • the needs of prisoners with protected characteristics were not sufficiently identified or met and staff still refused to push prisoners in wheelchairs.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Holme House faces significant challenges and has to make a difficult transition to the new working arrangements its benchmarked staffing levels require. Despite these challenges, important progress has been made since the last inspection. Ensuring adequate first night arrangements, that prisoners can deal with their basic personal needs and that all prisoners receive equitable outcomes are key priorities for the future.”

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

“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the progress that has been made at Holme House and the safe and purposeful environment it provides for the prisoners it holds.  The improvements achieved are a credit to the Governor and her staff.

“We are determined to maintain momentum and once established the new working arrangements will ensure that we continue to deliver a good quality regime but at lower cost to the public.

“Action has already been taken to address the concerns about first night care and arrangements are in place to meet the wider recommendations in the report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at

HMYOI Wetherby Keppel Unit – High standards of care in well run facility

A child in the Keppel Unit at Wetherby YOI
A child in the Keppel Unit at Wetherby YOI

The Keppel Unit at HMYOI Wetherby was extremely well run and provided a model for other specialist units for young people, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the special unit at the young offender institution in West Yorkshire.

HMYOI Wetherby’s Keppel Unit, which opened in 2008, is designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for some of the most challenging and vulnerable young people in the country whose needs cannot be met in the mainstream prison system. It is the only unit of its kind in the secure estate. This was its third inspection. Each time inspectors have reported positively about the conditions and the way young people were being treated. On this inspection, inspectors found that the positive culture and work practices had developed to a higher level and now provided a model of how a specialist unit should be run.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • high quality care was delivered in an environment where young people had the chance to settle and the opportunity to thrive;
  • all young people had an up-to-date care plan which ensured that their needs were under constant review;
  • levels of self-harm remained a concern but those at risk were well supported;
  • relationships between staff and young people were very good and staff intervened quickly to prevent bullying and fights from escalating;
  • leadership of the unit was strong and consistent, helping staff from different disciplines to work well as a team;
  • the unit was well designed, which helped to create a calm atmosphere;
  • the education department offered a supportive environment and poor behaviour was dealt with effectively;
  • time out of cell was adequate and young people had regular time in the open air; and
  • progress had been made in co-ordinating resettlement work and there was now greater involvement by external partners in safeguarding and child protection arrangements.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • removal from the unit was still used as a punishment and routine strip searching still took place with force sometimes used to gain compliance; and
  • many young people struggled to maintain regular contact with their families, a key element of support working towards and on release, due to the distance they were held from home.

Nick Hardwick said:

“In the five years since its inception a positive ethos has been established and sustained within the Keppel unit and good work practices have become embedded. Despite their vulnerability, young people were provided with a high standard of care within a well-run facility. Our findings reflect the positive reaction from most young people and overall, the outcomes available were having a constructive and positive influence on some otherwise difficult young people. The secure estate has much to learn from the positive way the Keppel unit has been developed over recent years.”

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

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has recognised the excellent work being undertaken at the Keppel Unit.

“Staff look after some very challenging young people with highly complex needs, and the care they provide is outstanding. They can be very proud of this very positive report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at

Brixton Prison – ‘Too Much on Hold’ say Inspectors


HMP Brixton needed to do more to build a new culture and ways of working to suit its changed role, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the south London jail.

Some 12 months before the inspection, HMP Brixton been re-designated to a category C/D resettlement prison, ending the role it has had for many years as a category B local prison holding remand and short-sentenced prisoners. The inspection found the prison with plans well advanced but not yet delivered for the major improvements to its facilities required for its new role. Although the prison now held a mixture of category C and low risk category D prisoners, its regime and facilities were little changed from its former category B role. Work was well underway to provide new and refurbished activity buildings that should provide sufficient activity places for the entire population and a new learning and skills manager had begun to address issues of quality and prisoner achievement. However, there was a danger of too much reliance being placed on the new provision to resolve all the prison’s problems and not enough was being done to make improvements that were needed now.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the prison was operating at 60% over its certified normal capacity and many prisoners shared small, cramped cells;
  • there was far too little activity for the size of the population, so many prisoners were locked in their cells for more than 20 hours a day;
  • the quality of learning, skills and work activities was too often inadequate and overall the quantity and quality was unacceptable in any prison, but particularly so in a resettlement prison;
  • offender management arrangements were poor and serious delays in completing risk assessments, lack of contact with offender supervisors and the placement of prisoners at Brixton too late in their sentence meant it was difficult for many to make progress;
  • prisoners’ frustrations were compounded by security restrictions more appropriate for the prison’s former role as a category B local than its new role as a resettlement prison;
  • prisoners reported very poor relationships with staff;
  • many prisoners found it difficult to get basic needs met, such as the provision of clean clothing;
  • reception arrangements were very poor and prisoners had been left in vans for up to two hours in the middle of the hottest days in the summer; and
  • substance misuse services were good but were undermined by the availability of drugs, such as cannabis, in the prison.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • despite some inadequate learning, skills and work activities, there were some exceptions, such as the bakery, prison radio and external placements for category D prisoners;
  • plans for a restaurant in the prison, staffed by prisoners but open to the public, had the potential to provide valuable opportunities;
  • levels of self-harm were low and those at risk felt well supported; and
  • level of violence were low and there was little use of force.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Brixton prison is at a turning point. This inspection came at a very bad time for the prison – when all the disadvantages of major building works were apparent but none of the advantages of the new provision had yet been realised. However, the fact was that the prison was not yet ready for the category C and D prisoners it now held and too many lacked the opportunities for purposeful activity and rehabilitation they needed. Too much was on hold waiting for the new facilities to be ready and some elements of prisoners’ treatment and conditions were unacceptable – and had remained so for too long.”

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

“Brixton prison was undergoing a significant change when the Chief Inspector visited but since then it has continued to adapt to its new role.

“In January the prison will see further changes with a new range of employment and education initiatives helping to increase productive time out of cell. This includes a new Clink Restaurant opening in February, which will give offenders the chance to learn the skills that can help them secure employment once they leave prison.

“The governor and his staff have been working hard to tackle the issues raised during this inspection and will continue to drive the prison forward in the new year.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 17 December 2013 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. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 1-12 July 2013.
  4. HMP Brixton is a category C/D resettlement prison.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Prisons Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.


Report on Offender Management in Prisons – “A Truly Damning Report” say experts

POMI 2013


Little progress has been made in offender management in prisons and a fundamental review is needed, said Liz Calderbank, Chief Inspector of Probation, and Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today they published the report of a third joint inspection into offender management in prisons. The lack of progress is concerning, they added,  as it casts doubt on the Prison Service’s capacity to implement the changes required under the Transforming Rehabilitation strategy designed to reduce reoffending rates, especially for short-term prisoners.

Offender management is the term used to denote assessment, planning and implementation of work with offenders in the community or in custody to address the likelihood of them reoffending and the risk of harm they pose to the public. Community-based offender managers and staff in prison Offender Management Units have joint responsibility for undertaking or co-ordinating work with prisoners to address the attitudes, behaviour and lifestyle that contributed to their offending.

Today’s report reflects findings from 21 prison establishments inspected during 2012 and 2013. Inspectors found that, even taking account of the different nature of the establishments, some common themes emerged:

  • ·        organisational changes to offender management units have failed to address the culture of poor communication or mistrust between prison departments that undermines the potential of offender management, illustrated by their failure to use one central electronic case record;
  • ·        there have been some modest improvements in practice but these are inconsistent;
  • ·        prison officer offender supervisors continue to lack guidance and supervision;
  • ·        community-based offender managers still have insufficient involvement overall to be able to drive sentence planning and implementation;
  • ·        there are too few structured programmes available within prisons designed to challenge offending behaviour and promote rehabilitation;
  • ·        while some prisons offered a reasonable range of accredited and non-accredited programmes for their population, some offered no programmes at all whereas others were running down their provision; and
  • ·        provision for offender management was particularly poor at two of the prisons accommodating foreign national prisoners.

 The chief inspectors said:

 “We have come to the reluctant conclusion that the offender management model, however laudable its aspirations, is not working in prisons. The majority of prison staff do not understand it and the community-based offender managers, who largely do, have neither the involvement in the process or the internal knowledge of the institutions to make it work. It is more complex than many prisoners need and more costly to run than most prisons can afford. Given the Prison Service’s present capacity and the pressures now facing it with the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation and an extension of ‘through the gate’ services, we doubt whether it can deliver future National Offender Management Service (NOMS) expectations. We therefore believe that the current position is no longer sustainable and should be subject to fundamental review.”

Mark Leech (, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisons in England and Wales said the Inspectors’ assessment that the Offender Management model was no longer tenable was ‘damning’.

“This is a damning report.

“It is an indictment against a Ministry of Justice that has consistently failed to resource prisons to deliver the reduction in offending that Ministers so often shout about  – and it reveals the lie in claims that we have a joined up criminal justice system with end-to-end offender management – nothing could be further from the truth.

“The fundamental review called for by the Chief Inspectors must start immediately – the victims of crime deserve nothing less.”


The report is available at from 17 December 2013.

  1. This is the third report to be published from our joint Prisoner Offender Management Inspection programme. This report draws on the findings from inspections undertaken between April 2012 and March 2013 at the following HM Prison establishments: Buckley Hall, Bullingdon, Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Channings Wood, Drake Hall, Forest Bank, Frankland, Full Sutton, Gloucester, Highpoint, Huntercombe, Leeds, Leyhill, Lewes, Lincoln, Lindholme, Northumberland, Onley, The Verne and Winchester.
  2. OASys (Offender Assessment System) is the nationally designed and prescribed framework for both probation and prisons to assess offenders. It makes use of both static and dynamic factors. Static factors are elements of someone’s history that by definition can subsequently never change (ie, the age at which they committed their first offence). Dynamic factors are the factors in someone’s circumstances and behaviour that can change over time.
  3. The NOMS Offender Management Model had introduced an ‘end to end’ approach to managing offenders from assessment through planned interventions to review. The intention was that a community-based offender manager (probation officer or probation service officer) would have responsibility for both the assessment and planning for all sentenced adult offenders in custody and for their eventual release under supervision in the community. The offender managers would work in teams with offender supervisors in prisons who would undertake most of the face to face work and case administrators. They would use other key workers as necessary to deliver interventions.
  4. Offenders ‘in scope’ of the offender management model were originally restricted to those supervised in the community subject to community orders and on licence on release from prison. Prisoners serving 12 months or more and classified as posing a high or very high risk of harm to the public, prolific and other priority offenders and those serving indeterminate periods of imprisonment for public protection were included later in phases II and III.
  5. The government’s Transforming Rehabilitation strategy can be found here:
  6. For further information or to speak to Liz Calderbank or Nick Hardwick, please contact Jane Parsons on 07880 787452.

Children and Young People in Custody – Some Improvements, Some Concerns

Nick Hardwick Chief Inspector of Prisons
Nick Hardwick
Chief Inspector of Prisons

Children and Young People in Custody – Some Improvements, Some Concerns
Most young people’s perceptions of their treatment and conditions in custody had improved but there were indications that establishments were struggling to manage some of the most challenging or vulnerable, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing two thematic reports on the results of surveys of children and young people in custody.

The first report, Children and Young People in Custody 2012-13: an analysis of the experiences of 15-18-year-olds in prison, published jointly with the Youth Justice Board (YJB), sets out how young people describe their own experience of imprisonment in a young offender institution (YOI).

Since 2011-12, the numbers of young people aged 18 and under in custody dropped by just over 28% to 1,420 in March 2013. Those held in YOIs made up the majority of those in custody and there was a drop of 32% during the reporting period, with 1,044 young men and women held in March 2013. This period saw the decommissioning of a further 360 places by re-roling HMYOI Ashfield into a category C prison for male adults. In July 2013, the decision was taken to decommission the remaining female YOI units and hold all young women in secure training centres (STCs) and secure children’s homes (SCHs). At the time these reports were prepared, the government was considering plans for major changes to youth custody arrangements.

The surveys demonstrate variations in young people’s perceptions in different establishments that reflect, in part, differences in their size and functions. However, the overall picture for young men this year was of improvement in their perceptions across almost all areas of life in custody. It is not possible to definitively explain this improvement, but improved treatment and conditions may reflect the reduced population held in many YOIs. In this reporting period, there were higher proportions of sentenced young men and young men aged 18 than in the previous year, perhaps reflecting a more stable and mature population than previously.  However, the vulnerability of many of the young men held is clear.

The report also found that:

  • a third of young men had been in local authority care and almost nine out of ten had been excluded from school;
  • 74% of young men said most staff treated them with respect compared with 64% in 2011-12;
  • 90% of young men said they wanted to stop offending but a higher proportion than last year thought they would have problems getting a job on release;
  • 51% felt they had done something in the establishment that would make them less likely to offend in the future, compared with 45% in 2011-12;
  • the population of young men who said they were from a black and minority ethnic background remained stable at 45%;
  • the population of young men who described themselves as Muslim has remained stable at 22% after considerable increase from 13% in 2009-10 to 21% in 2011-12;
  • the number of young women  held is very small and reduced further in 2012-13; and
  • there was improvement in the proportion of young women reporting one or more visits per week

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said:

“Three very clear messages are apparent from this year’s survey findings. First, most young people say they have been better able to navigate the experience of custody itself than in the past. Second, there are significant minorities of young people for whom this is not true and the variation across establishments is too wide. It is in these exceptions that the greatest risks lie. Third, young people may be generally able to manage the experience of custody better but they are more anxious about how they will manage after release. They want to get a job and stay out of trouble but too many do not know where to go to get the help they need.”

In April 2012, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began joint inspections of STCs. The second report, Children and Young People in Custody 2012-13: an analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres is the first annual summary of children and young people’s experience of STCs.

Generally most young people were positive about their treatment and conditions in which they were held. However, in some important areas a sizeable minority of young people reported negatively and the range of some results across establishments is concerning.

The report found that:

  • most young people felt safe, felt that staff treated them with respect and that the education they had received would help them;
  • 16% of children and young people said they would have no-one to turn to if they had a problem;
  • 30% said they had been physically restrained by staff;
  • 44% of young people said they were from a black or minority ethnic background and 19% said they had a disability.

In some important areas, young people from all minority groups reported different experiences from the population as a whole. More work needs to be done to understand the over-representation of these minority groups and what lies behind the differences in their perceived experiences. The numbers of young people who said they were Muslims or from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background (21% and 12% respectively) varied substantially from statistical data held by the centre. This requires further investigation.

Nick Hardwick said:

“All the young people held in STCs are children and have the same fundamental rights as other children – to be safe from harm, educated, healthy, treated fairly and heard. Most of the young people surveyed for this report tell us that is the case, but a significant minority say that in important areas, that is not so. The planned changes to the youth custody estate need to take careful account of what young people identify as the strengths and weaknesses of the current provision.”

Lin Hinnigan, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, said:

“The Youth Justice Board (YJB) commissions these annual reports to listen to the voices of children and young people in custody, to take forward their concerns and to understand how we can improve their experiences

“This year, the overall improved results show that much good work already goes on in custody to support some of the most vulnerable, challenging and troubled young people in society.

“However, we remain concerned about the significant minority of young people, whose experiences are less positive than others, including those from minority ethnic backgrounds or those who are particularly vulnerable for other reasons. We will continue to work with providers to improve the experience of these young people.

“The Youth Justice Board is also committed to improving resettlement when young people leave custody in order to improve their life chances and to reduce reoffending.”

A copy of the both reports can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 10 December 2013 at


HMP Kennet – A Safe And Purposeful Prison Say Inspectors

HMP Kennet
HMP Kennet

HMP Kennet was helping prisoners to acquire new skills and to prepare for release, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the resettlement prison near Liverpool.

HMP Kennet is situated next to Ashworth high security hospital in converted former hospital premises. It opened in 2007 as a category C establishment but has recently changed to become a resettlement prison. It is now semi-open with a majority of category D prisoners.  Arrangements to achieve this transition had worked well and inspectors found the prison was achieving reasonably good or better outcomes for prisoners across all tests for a healthy prison: safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • Kennet was a remarkably safe prison, with low levels of violence, self-harm and use of force;
  • arrangements to address substance misuse were satisfactory and use of segregation was low;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were usually good and most prisoners felt respected,
  • learning and skills provision was well managed with sufficient activity for all;
  • vocational training facilities and learning were impressive;
  • work was carried out to commercial standards and there was a meaningful focus on preparation for work and employability;
  • good links had been developed that were allowing significant numbers of prisoners to use their skills in voluntary work experience on temporary release; and
  • work to support the various resettlement pathways, such as finding prisoners accommodation on release and help with careers advice, was very good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the prison’s new function meant significant staff reductions and a requirement for staff to work differently and a few staff had yet to come to terms with the challenges of the prison’s new direction;
  • the prisoners’ accommodation was in a poor condition and required refurbishment;
  • more work was required to ensure the prison had a fully integrated resettlement strategy consistent with its new role; and
  • there were real gaps in the quality of offender management.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Kennet was settling well into its new role. Prisoners were given clear opportunities to use their time purposefully and acquire skills, and to prepare for release. Key priorities should now include further improving the quality of staff-prisoner relationships and developing a culture of consultation and communication with prisoners; improving environmental standards, including more proportionate physical security, and ensuring meaningful offender engagement is at the heart of the prisoners’ experience. Overall, however, the Governor and staff should be commended for running a prison that delivers good outcomes.”

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

“Kennet is a safe and well-run prison that offers good outcomes for the prisoners it holds. I am pleased that that Chief Inspector has recognised the progress being made, especially in addressing substance misuse and providing work and vocational training – both of which help reduce reoffending on release and protect the public.

“The Governor and staff are working hard to adapt to becoming a resettlement prison and I am confident that they will continue to build on this progress.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 19 November 2013 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. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 17-28 June 2013.
  4. HMP Kennet is a resettlement prison for men.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Prisons Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview.

“Impressive Progress” At Wandsworth Prison Say Inspectors

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

HMP Wandsworth had improved in all areas, and staff were to be congratulated, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the local south London jail.

HMP Wandsworth is a large and overcrowded institution dating mostly from the 19th century. The prison was severely criticised at its last inspection two years ago. More recently, inspectors found that the prison had made impressive progress in a relatively short period of time. Safety had improved significantly. The Victorian environment at Wandsworth was a challenge to maintain, but despite this, environmental standards were reasonably good. There was now sufficient activity for the majority of prisoners and resettlement services were generally effective.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • levels of violence had reduced and staff supervision had improved;
  • support for those in danger of self-harm was much improved, with evidence of better outcomes and fewer incidents;
  • security was applied proportionately, use of force was reducing and disciplinary arrangements were generally well managed;
  • the drug strategy was beginning to have an impact and support for drug misusers was good, although levels of illicit drug use remained too high;
  • the culture had markedly improved and staff-prisoner relationships were much better;
  • the quality of learning and skills provision, particularly vocational training, was good;
  • the strategy to reduce reoffending was reasonably good and grounded in a useful analysis of need; and
  • most medium- and longer-term prisoners received some offender supervision.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • too many prisoners were required to share a cell designed for one;
  • although the promotion of diversity was a developing priority, much more still needed to be done;
  • there was a range of services for foreign nationals, who made up over 40% of the population, but the prison needed a more considered approach; and
  • over a quarter of prisoners were locked up during the working day, which was still too high.

Nick Hardwick said:

“This is a good report that records significant improvement. The prison is well led by the governor and his management team, and it is to their credit that they have created a sense of optimism and energy in the prison. One inspection report does not of itself mean that the deep-set negative culture, built up over decades, which we witnessed at our last visit, is eradicated. The challenge will be to embed these recent improvements. However, at our previous inspection Wandsworth was being run in the interests of the staff; at this inspection we found a prison that was working toward becoming an accountable public service. The governor and his staff should be congratulated and encouraged following this fresh start.”

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

“This is a very positive report and I am pleased the Chief Inspector has recognised the achievements made by the governor and his staff at Wandsworth.

“There are clear challenges in running a Victorian prison of this size but Wandsworth has developed a safe environment with good outcomes for the prisoners it holds.

“The Governor and his team will now address any areas of concern in the report to continue to drive sustained improvement.”




Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 12 November 2013 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. This announced inspection was carried out from 13-17 May, 10-14 June 2013.
  4. HMP Wandsworth is a category B local male prison.
  5. Please contact Vinota Karunasaagarar at HMI Prisons on 020 3681 2801 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.