HMP & YOI Foston Hall – Well-Led Women’s Prison With Inspectors Confident Of Further Improvement

HMP & YOI Foston Hall, a women’s prison situated between Derby and Uttoxeter, was found to be a “very positive institution” with reasonably good outcomes across all four HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ healthy prison tests.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said most women in Foston Hall felt safe. “Violence was rare and incidents minor. Work to investigate incidents when they did occur and the support offered to victims and perpetrators did, however, need to be better.” The incentives scheme was not very effective, and the number of adjudications and the use of force by staff were both higher than expected, although incidents when force was used were not normally very serious.

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A dedicated social worker led work to support adult safeguarding effectively, but needed better support from other staff. “Support for those with needs was not sufficiently proactive or always in line with prisoner care plans. The case management of those at risk of self-harm was variable,” Mr Clarke said. Self-harm incidents were very high and despite two self-inflicted deaths since 2016, when the prison was last inspected, not all the recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, who investigated these incidents, had been implemented.

Inspectors found the general environment to be excellent and most accommodation was good. Most women were positive about their relationships with staff. New work to promote equality and diversity had begun and was encouraging, with new arrangements for consultation now in place. Health care had improved considerably since 2016.

Most prisoners experienced very good time out of cell and some good joint working between education providers and the prison had led to improvements to the curriculum on offer.

The management of resettlement was improving, but would have benefited further from a better analysis of the distinct needs of women in the prison. Mr Clarke said: “Work to support offender management was good but more could have been done for the many prisoners serving indeterminate sentences.”

Inspectors noted some impressive initiatives, such as the Family Bonding Unit established  to encourage stronger family ties.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“This is a good report about a good prison. Foston Hall is well led, with energy and creativity evident among the senior team. Themes that emerged from our inspection were the need to refine strategies so that initiatives were better coordinated and delivered more effectively, and to ensure that the staff group was more proactive in focusing on the needs of prisoners and their well-being. We were, however, confident that managers could use the platform they had created for further improvement and we leave the prison with several recommendations which we hope will assist this process.”

Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service Director General of Prisons, said:

“I am pleased that inspectors have found Foston Hall to be a good and improving prison. Staff and managers have worked hard to implement the recommendations from the previous inspection in 2016, and raise the establishment’s performance. Further work to tackle the high levels of self-harm and improve support for those at risk of harming themselves is underway, with the prison implementing a new model to do this. I know that the Governor and her management team will use the inspectors’ recommendations to build on this excellent progress.”


Task of the establishment – A women’s resettlement and local prison

Certified normal accommodation and operational capacity – Prisoners held at the time of inspection: 263

Baseline certified normal capacity: 264

In-use certified normal capacity: 264

Operational capacity: 286

Notable features from this inspection

  • In our survey, almost all prisoners reported having problems on arrival, including depression and feeling suicidal. Three quarters of the population said they suffered from a mental health problem.
  • Thirty-six per cent of prisoners were involved with psychosocial services.
  • Foston Hall was the first women’s prison to introduce digital visits to promote contact with children and families.
  • On average 70 prisoners were released each month.
  • An unusually high proportion of prisoners, almost 20%, at Foston Hall were serving indeterminate sentences.

Prison status and key providers – Public

Physical and mental health provider: Care UK

Substance use provider: Inclusion

Learning and skills provider: Milton Keynes College

Community rehabilitation company (CRC): Derbyshire, Leicester, Nottinghamshire and Rutland CRC

Escort contractor: GEOAmey

Prison department – Women’s estate

Short description of residential units

  • First night and induction unit for 63 prisoners
  • A wing – Cameo Unit accommodation for 42 prisoners with personality disorders
  • B wing – mainstream accommodation for 42 prisoners
  • C wing – mainstream accommodation for 41 prisoners
  • D wing – mainstream accommodation for 29 prisoners
  • E wing – unit for 11 long-term and enhanced regime prisoners
  • F wing – mainstream accommodation for 63 prisoners (closed for refurbishment)
  • T wing – mainstream accommodation for 58 prisoners.

Name of governor and date in post – Andrea Black – February 2017

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