Lancaster Farms – safe and decent but needs more work on reducing reoffending

lancasterfarmsHMP Lancaster Farms was a safe and decent prison but needed to improve the work it did with prisoners to reduce the risk of reoffending, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the resettlement prison in Lancashire.

HMP Lancaster Farms was last inspected in June 2011 just before it re-roled from a local prison holding young adults to a training prison for young adults. In 2011, inspectors found an improved prison that was well equipped for its new role, but needed to improve resettlement work. At this more recent inspection, the jail had again re-roled and had been operating as an adult training prison with a resettlement function. Some areas of work were still in transition while others had built on the strengths previously reported. Lancaster Farms remained a basically safe and respectful prison.


Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • support on arrival and through the early days was good;
  • most prisoners felt safe and despite challenges with new psychoactive substances (NPS) and some underdeveloped violence reduction processes, levels of violence were not excessive;
  • the last self-inflicted death had been in 2014 and action to address the issues raised by this was well advanced;
  • support for those vulnerable to self-harm was good, with particularly strong work by the mental health and chaplaincy teams;
  • use of force was not high and de-escalation was the norm when it was needed;
  • robust management action was being taken to address the challenges of NPS;
  • living conditions were generally good, the food provided was better than usual and prisoners were positive about most staff; and
  • work to reintegrate prisoners into the community towards the end of their sentence was good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the needs of some disabled prisoners were not being met and work with foreign nationals was poor;
  • there were too few relevant work places and not all the available activity places were being used, though there were plans to increase the amount of work and training offered;
  • offender management arrangements were in transition, too few assessments were being completed to an adequate standard and contact between prisoners and offender supervisors was too infrequent; and
  • public protection arrangements were seriously flawed and needed urgent attention.

Nick Hardwick said:

“We felt that good progress had been made in providing a safe and decent prison for the new population held, but that consistent management attention was needed to address weakness in the amount and range of work offered, and in the support provided around the critical areas of offender management and public protection. It was reassuring that senior managers had recognised most of these weaknesses and had credible plans to address the shortfalls.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“Since its previous inspection, Lancaster Farms has been converted from a Young Offender Institution to a category C adult prison. This was a significant complex change which, as this inspection makes clear, has been managed impressively by the Governor and his staff. I’m pleased that HM Inspectorate of Prisons found a safe, decent and respectful prison. We accept that there is more work to do to develop the resettlement regime and provision of purposeful activity for the new adult population and will use the recommendations in this report to drive progress in these areas over the coming months.”

Notes to editors:    

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: