HMP NOTTINGHAM – Still not safe despite some progress

HMP Nottingham
                    HMP Nottingham

There was still too much serious violence and disorder at HMP Nottingham despite staff working hard to address this, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the local prison.

HMP Nottingham holds just over 1,000 adult and young adult male prisoners. It was constructed in the 19th century but largely rebuilt between 2008 and 2010. It holds a range of prisoners, including those remanded by the courts, newly sentenced prisoners and prisoners nearing release. At its last inspection in 2014, inspectors were particularly concerned that levels of violence were far too high. This more recent inspection was announced in advance to give prison leaders time to focus on addressing these concerns. This inspection found that the prison still faced many significant challenges, but while much work still needed to be done, managers and staff were working very hard to address areas of concern. Progress had been made in all four healthy prison areas: safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement, although this was not sufficient in every case to change the assessments inspectors gave.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • there was still too much serious violence and disorder despite real efforts made to address it;
  • high levels of force were used and, while governance of this had improved, some serious allegations about staff were not being taken seriously enough;
  • levels of vulnerability, in particular men with mental health problems, were higher than many similar prisons;
  • some men with complex combinations of vulnerability and problematic behaviour were being held in the segregation unit, which was inappropriate;
  • some wing-based staff remained distant and somewhat dismissive of the men in their care; and
  • offender management oversight arrangements needed to improve and some re-categorisation decisions were being wrongly made without appropriate risk assessments.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • some aspects of support for those arriving new into the prison had improved and induction was better, but delays in reception were still significant;
  • some excellent staff worked positively with prisoners and were not afraid to challenge or reward behaviour as appropriate;
  • the regime introduced in October 2015 was delivering a reasonable amount of time out of cell for most prisoners;
  • leadership of learning and skills had improved and attendance at activities was also better, but still needed improvement;
  • leadership in resettlement had improved and progress had been made from the previous very low base; and
  • reintegration work was developing well.

Peter Clarke said:

“We were far more optimistic than when we last inspected in 2014. The decline in standards had been arrested, the culture within the prison had improved, and there was a real sense that the leadership of the prison had a grip on what needed to be done. The plans in place to make the prison safer and more decent were credible. However, much of the very real progress that had been made was fragile and a great deal of work was still needed to consolidate the position.

“There is no doubt that this prison has suffered from a lack of continuity and consistency in its leadership. At the time of this inspection there had been five governors in the space of four years. The current governor has grasped some difficult issues and laid some good if inevitably fragile foundations. However, our understanding is that he too will shortly move to another prison. For the future, every effort should be made to stabilise the leadership of this challenging prison.”

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

“I am pleased that the inspectorate has noted the improvements that staff have worked on at the prison and that they continue to show progress in a number of key areas, but there is still more to be done to bring Nottingham up to the standard we expect.

“Following the last inspection we moved a Governor from outside the area into Nottingham with a clear remit to stabilise the prison and to drive the urgent improvements required. He has done his job exceptionally well. We have now appointed an experienced Governor who is committed to securing the long-term future of the prison. I am confident he will build on the progress made and provide the continuity and leadership required to make Nottingham a high performing, successful establishment.”

Notes to editors:    

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 17 May 2016 at:
  1. 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.
  2. HMP Nottingham is a category B local prison holding young adult and adult men.
  3. This announced inspection was carried out from 1-5 February 2016.
  4. 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.