HMP & Yoi Foston Hall: woman’s prison with some strengths but improvements needed

IMG_0065Foston Hall was a reasonably safe and decent prison with some good rehabilitative work, but further improvements need to be made, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in Derbyshire.

HMP & YOI Foston Hall is a local and resettlement prison. Like most other women’s local prisons, it holds a complicated mix of women, from those recently remanded in custody to those with lengthy sentences. Levels of need in the population were very high. Nearly half of new arrivals said they had problems feeling depressed or suicidal or had mental health problems. Many reported problems with drugs or alcohol. Over half the women had children under the age of 18 and for a similar number it was their first time in prison. When it was last inspected in 2014, inspectors assessed outcomes in safety, respect and resettlement as reasonably good but considered that work, training and education was insufficiently good. This more recent inspection was mixed – there were some obvious strengths but a few areas of significant weakness.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

· the prison was basically safe and security arrangements were appropriate;

· concerns regarding illegal drugs were being addressed;

· good care was provided to the many women at risk of self-harming and a sensible approach was adopted to managing those with complex needs;

· relationships between women and staff were strong and founded on mutual respect;

· the living accommodation was mixed, but clean and decent;

· health care was starting to deliver reasonably good support in some areas; and

· there was some good work to support higher risk women through the release process, although release on temporary licence (ROTL) was not used to support this work.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

· some aspects of early days support needed to be improved, particularly as this was when women were at their most vulnerable;

· there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2014, although the prison had taken robust action to address most of the concerns resulting from these deaths;

· there were delays in prescribed medications and limited administration slots at weekends and on bank holidays, meaning some medicines were not given to women at the right time;

· a third of women were locked up during the day and there were still insufficient activity places for all the women to be purposefully occupied; and

· although the community rehabilitation company was delivering pockets of good work, it was not yet fully integrated into the prison or delivering consistently good outcomes.
Peter Clarke said:
“Foston Hall remained a reasonably safe and respectful prison, and we found some excellent work being done to manage and support progression for the highly complex mix of women. Managers and staff were focused on improving the weaker aspects of the prison’s work, and we asked them to focus particularly on early days’ support, the management of medicines and developing the purposefulness of the regime. The prison’s senior team was going through a period of instability but we hoped this would be resolved speedily to ensure continuity in building on the obvious strengths of the institution, and addressing some of the significant challenges ahead.”

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

“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector found Foston Hall to be a reasonably safe and respectful prison. This reflects the hard work of staff to support women with complex needs, offering them opportunities to progress and turn their lives around.

“The majority of women at Foston Hall have a good regime with access to education and vocational training, but there is more to do. Since the inspection more work places have been created and the Governor is determined to use the recommendations in this report to further improve the prison.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 21 October 2016 at: