HMP & YOI New Hall – One of the best women’s prisons

NewhallHMP & YOI New Hall was a safe and decent prison and staff should be commended for their work, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the women’s prison in West Yorkshire.

HMP & YOI New Hall held around 360 women at the time of its inspection, including a small number of young adults. Several mothers and their babies were held in the mother and baby unit. Most of the women were sentenced, many with long or indeterminate sentences. Levels of need in the population were high: over a third reported having depression, mental health issues or suicidal feelings on arrival and a similar number reported having a disability. Nearly half reported having a drug problem on arrival and 43% said they had problems with alcohol. At its last inspection in 2012, New Hall was found to be a basically safe and decent prison with excellent work, training and education provision and resettlement support. This more recent inspection found the prison had improved still further.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the prison was fundamentally safe and there was very little evidence of violence or concerning incidents;
  • support for women who were vulnerable to self-harm and those with complex needs was good;
  • disciplinary procedures were well managed, and force and segregation were used proportionately;
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were a real strength;
  • the prison was clean;
  • the excellent mental health provision was welcome, given the evident high levels of need;
  • time out of cell was good and very few women were locked up during the core prison day;
  • learning and skills provision was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and was excellent in nearly all respects; and
  • provision for women who had been abused was very good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • aspects of offender management work needed to be better to ensure women who presented a risk to the public on release were quickly identified and risk reduction work was initiated and management action taken before their release.

Nick Hardwick said:

“New Hall is a safe and very respectful prison which does an excellent job in providing women with a range of purposeful and vocationally based activities, and some sound support around the resettlement pathways. The concerns we raise about aspects of offender management are well within the capacity of the prison management to quickly resolve. The prison is among the best of its type and we commend both the staff and management for the positive work they have done to achieve these outcomes.”

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

“I am pleased that this report recognises the excellent work being undertaken by staff at New Hall. They are providing good quality care to a very needy population, supporting them to develop the skills they need to turn their lives around on release.”

Read the report.