HMP Gartree
HMP Gartree

HMP Gartree worked effectively to reduce the risk of prisoners reoffending, but needed to provide more work, training and education places, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in Leicestershire.

HMP Gartree holds men convicted of serious offences who are serving long sentences. Its task is to help the men it holds to make progress in the long process of reducing their risks before eventual release. At its last inspection in 2010, inspectors found it was steadily improving. This more recent inspection found that improvement was continuing. The prison was mostly a safe and decent place and the work to reduce the risk that men would reoffend was good. The exception was in the amount of work, training and education the prison was providing, which was much too low for a training prison and threatened to undermine progress in other areas.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

most prisoners said they felt safe at Gartree, which was a real achievement;
the number of assaults was low;
despite two self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection, there was a relatively low number of self-harm incidents;
the quality of some of the education and training on offer was good with high qualification success rates;
very good relationships between staff and prisoners ensured that the atmosphere remained stable and calm;
work to reduce the risk of reoffending was underpinned by good relationships and was better than inspectors normally see;
the environment was clean and well maintained;
rehabilitation activities correctly focused on work to address the risk that men might reoffend, there was a good evidence-based approach, and more men than at similar prisons said they had done something to reduce the risk they would reoffend; and
Gartree was running some impressive and innovative offending behaviour programmes.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

there were insufficient activity places for the population and the prison did not make the best use of the places it had;
some of the contract workshops did not have sufficient work to keep prisoners fully occupied;
the range of education on offer was too narrow, though managers had recognised that they needed to improve this and plans were in place;
the new incentives and earned privileges scheme (IEP) had been introduced and prisoners complained, with justification, that they had lost their ‘enhanced’ status because there were not enough formal opportunities available in which they were now required to demonstrate their positive behaviour; and
there were many accounts from prisoners about the availability of drugs and ‘hooch’ (illicitly brewed alcohol).

Nick Hardwick said:

“In many ways, the men held at Gartree and the wider community into which they will eventually be released are served well. The prison is safe, decent and works effectively and innovatively to help men reduce the risk that they will reoffend. However, there is still room for improvement. Some processes need to be tightened up and the prison needs to do more to reduce the risks of the too easily available drugs and alcohol. Above all, Gartree must ensure there is enough good quality activity available to provide all the men it holds with purpose, structure and the possibility of progress.”

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

“This is a positive report, which shows real progress being made at Gartree in providing both a safe environment and strong rehabilitation programmes for the prisoners it holds.

“The Governor and his staff are working to address areas where further improvements can be made, particularly in education and purposeful activity.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 2 July 2014 at