HMP/YOI Stoke Heath – managing change well say Inspectors

Stoke-Heath-aerial-stockHMP/YOI Stoke Heath was managing reasonably well, but could do more to reduce the risk that prisoners reoffend, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the Shropshire training prison.

HMP/YOI Stoke Heath held both adults and young adults and had a small remand function serving the courts of mid-Wales. There was a small category D unit outside the prison walls. The prison was, at the time of its inspection, making the transition to become a resettlement prison for Wales. Once the new large prison in Wrexham opens in 2017, it is likely that Stoke Heath’s function will change again.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • although many of the men had long journeys to the prison from Wales, escort, reception and early days processes were good;
  • the prison cared well for the most vulnerable men it held;
  • levels of self-harm were low and prisoners in crisis said they felt well cared for;
  • use of force was high but well managed;
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were a strength;
  • the quality of activities was good and the achievements of prisoners were outstanding;
  • the strategic management of resettlement was reasonably good and the prison was planning well to meet its new resettlement role; and
  • practical resettlement work was good and the open unit outside the prison walls was an excellent facility to prepare prisoners for final release.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • levels of violence were high and there had been some concerning finds of weapons, but most incidents were low level;
  • the prison was responding to the supply of illegal substances, but needed to do more to understand and address the causes of violence;
  • health care screening of new arrivals was inconsistent and this created significant risks;
  • support for prisoners with protected characteristics varied;
  • many prisoners were under-occupied and although the amount of work, training and education had increased, it was still insufficient to meet the needs of the population;
  • offender management processes needed to focus more on reducing prisoners’ risk of reoffending after release; and
  • a high proportion of prisoners had been involved in domestic violence offences, but there was no work done to address this behaviour.

Nick Hardwick said:

“HMP/YOI Stoke Heath has weathered the pressures on the prison system better than most, and outcomes for the prisoners held were better than in many prisons we have recently inspected. Priorities for the future should include a focus on tackling violence, improving support for prisoners with protected characteristics, keeping men fully occupied and doing more to reduce the risks that they will reoffend after release.”

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

“As the Chief Inspector has found, offenders at Stoke Heath are being given genuine opportunities to turn their lives around through high quality education, training and preparation for release.

“The Governor and his staff have worked hard to make real improvements at the same time as managing significant change.

“The prison will now use the findings of this report to develop and improve further, including through an enhanced strategy to tackle and reduce prisoner violence.”

  1. Read the report.