HMP Manchester: Some improvements but progress is slow and weak in key areas

HMP Manchester, an important local prison in a major English city, was assessed by inspectors as having made slow and weak progress in many key areas where improvement was urged after a full inspection in 2018.

An Independent Review of Progress (IRP) at Manchester took place in June 2019, 11 months after the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, said the prison needed to “up its game.”

Mr Clarke said: “The response to the 2018 inspection can only be described as too late and too weak. It is true that there were some encouraging outcomes, and most functional heads demonstrated enthusiasm and a commitment to improving their areas. However, we found there had been little or no meaningful progress against two-thirds of our recommendations.”

The prison had recently revised its safety strategy. “Assaults on prisoners had reduced significantly since the full inspection, and we judged there to have been reasonable progress in this area.” Mr Clarke added, though: “If the establishment is to reduce violence further, particularly against staff, the lengthy list of actions aimed at reducing violence should be prioritised.”

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The use of force by staff remained high. “Despite this, there had been no meaningful progress against this recommendation; governance had not improved, staff rarely used their body-worn cameras, with no adequate explanation for this, and too few recorded incidents were scrutinised to provide assurance and institutional learning.”

The prison had made reasonable progress – the second-highest assessment, below good – in efforts to reduce the supply of drugs. Mandatory testing results showed that drug use was relatively low compared with other local prisons.

However, promising work to support prisoners in crisis had started so recently that progress at the time of the IRP visit had to be judged as insufficient. “This was very concerning given that there had been three further self-inflicted deaths since the full inspection in July 2018. It was bewildering to find that actions to prevent deaths in custody simply had not been reviewed until shortly before our visit. Similarly, the introduction of key work and wing peer support had been so slow that we could not yet see sufficient progress in this area.”

The prison had made concerted efforts to tackle the ongoing vermin problem, and some improvements had been made to living conditions.

There was also evidence of reasonable progress in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, though Ofsted inspectors found that attendance at work and education was not prioritised and too much activity was curtailed. Too few prisoners completed their courses and achievements were not sufficiently good.

Mr Clarke said there had been no meaningful progress in the important areas of equality and diversity or time out of cell. A spot check on one wing found 49% of prisoners locked up during the day.

Mr Clarke said: “HMP Manchester was relatively well resourced and had fewer inexperienced staff than we have found at similar prisons. It was therefore hard to understand why progress had been so slow in many critical areas. Such progress as there had been had only started in the weeks and months immediately leading up to this review visit.

“Without a fundamental shift in attitude towards the findings of HM Inspectorate of Prisons, we had no confidence that there could be significant improvements in the future. At the full inspection we had been told that reconfiguration to a category B training prison was imminent. On this visit… we were told that the target date had been moved to October 2019. It is my considered view that unless the culture of the prison changes, and the need for improvement is taken seriously, it will not be ready for this change.”

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HMP Manchester: Deteriorating Safety, Respect and Purposeful Activity

HMP Manchester, a large local jail with a small number of high-security prisoners, was found by inspectors to have become less safe and respectful, and to have deteriorated in its provision of training and education, over four years.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that in 2014 the prison had been assessed as reasonably good across all four of HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ ‘healthy prison tests.’

In June and July 2018, only its rehabilitation and release work had remained reasonably good. It was now assessed as ‘not sufficiently good’ for safety, respect and purposeful activity, in what Mr Clarke described as a “disappointing inspection”. He warned the prison against complacency in its view of its own performance.

SAFETY: Prisoners spent too long locked up in reception and there were gaps in first night care. Induction processes were reasonably good. Levels of violence had increased and were high and one in three prisoners felt unsafe. It was too soon to judge the effectiveness of promising work to reduce violence. The use of force was high and lacked sufficient scrutiny. The regime on the segregation unit was poor. Some aspects of security work were excellent. The drug strategy was inadequate. There had been three self-inflicted deaths in the last six months. Levels of self-harm had increased and the care provided to prisoners in crisis was too variable. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in 2014, we found that outcomes for prisoners in HMP Manchester were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. We made 22 recommendations in the area of safety. At this inspection we found that 11 of the recommendations had been achieved, one had been partially achieved and 10 had not been achieved.

RESPECT: Relationships between staff and prisoners required improvement. Many parts of the prison were in disrepair. Areas in residential units were dirty and infested with vermin. Consultation and peer support were reasonable. There was a lack of confidence in application and complaints processes. Work on equality and diversity remained underdeveloped. There had been improvements in the provision of health, social care and substance misuse support services. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in 2014, we found that outcomes for prisoners in HMP Manchester were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. We made 29 recommendations in the area of respect. At this inspection we found that 10 of the recommendations had been achieved, two had been partially achieved and 17 had not been achieved.

PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY:  Too many prisoners were locked up during the core day instead of being engaged in purposeful activity and despite the availability of sufficient activity spaces for every prisoner. Prisoners in the general population could attend an appropriate range of activities but vulnerable prisoners and category A prisoners were disadvantaged. Prisoner allocation to activities was poor and not enough was done to improve attendance or punctuality. Prisoners who did attend activities behaved well. Too few prisoners completed their courses but achievements for those who did were good. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in 2014, we found that outcomes for prisoners in HMP Manchester were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. We made 12 recommendations in the area of purposeful activity. At this inspection we found that four of the recommendations had been achieved, two had been partially achieved and six had not been achieved.

REHABILITATION & RELEASE PLANNING:  Children and families work was reasonably good but the visits experience for some families was difficult. There were gaps in the reducing reoffending strategy which resulted in a shortfall in services for some prisoners. Some good casework demonstrated a proper focus on risk and sentence plans. Contact between offender supervisors and prisoners was good in many cases but was still inconsistent. MAPPA (multi-agency public protection arrangements) processes were managed well. More prisoners were being released on home detention curfew (HDC), although some were delayed beyond their earliest release date. Available interventions were appropriately targeted. All prisoners had a resettlement plan but too many prisoners were released without settled accommodation. Outcomes for prisoners were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in 2014, we found that outcomes for prisoners in HMP Manchester were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. We made 12 recommendations in the area of resettlement.7 At this inspection we found that three of the recommendations had been achieved and nine had not been achieved.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“HMP Manchester is a complex prison with a very important role in protecting the public. The prison seemed to be adequately resourced and we were told that the prison had been improving of late. Local managers had a stated commitment to ensuring the basics were right, although if we had an overarching criticism it would be that, in fact, the basics were not always well attended to. The prison had to guard against complacency and in many respects ‘up its game’.”

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Strangeways roof top protest ends

Stuart Horner
Stuart Horner

A prisoner who scaled the roof of a jail in Manchester has ended his one-man protest after three days.

Murderer Stuart Horner, 35, who was locked up in 2012 for killing his uncle, came down from the roof of HMP Manchester during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

On Sunday he clambered up an 18ft wall of the prison’s secure exercise yard before stripping to his underpants.

During his protest on the rooftop of the prison known as Strangeways, he caused thousands of pounds of damage by pulling up metal roof trusses and using them to smash a series of large skylight windows and attack CCTV security cameras.

Prison officials tried to use a fire brigade cherrypicker crane to reach him to try talking him down after the protest began at around 3.30pm on Sunday.

Horner was given a life sentence, with a minimum of 27 years before parole, for blasting his uncle Ian Taylor, 44, with a shotgun in June 2011 after a family feud.

The Manchester Evening News reported that at around 3am as he made his way down from the roof in a crane, he said: “I’ve proved my point. I’ve got a 12in pizza and a can of coke. I’ve done what I wanted. I’ve had a mad one.”

He is set to face punishment for breaking prison rules and probable prosecution for criminal damage.

Over the three days, members of the public congregated outside the prison and held “party protests” in the middle of the street.

People danced to music and others left messages to prisoners on a sheet.

Strangeways roof top protest continues

Manchester Prison where there is a CSC Special Interventions Unit
Manchester Prison







A convicted murderer is staging a rooftop protest at HMP Manchester in his underpants over prison conditions.

Stuart Horner, 27, from Wythenshawe, Manchester, first clambered up a wall and onto the roof of the prison on Sunday afternoon.

He stripped to his Manchester United underpants at one stage, smashed windows, climbed up various structures and spent the night outside on the roof despite prison officers climbing ladders and trying to talk him down.

Inmates inside the jail have shouted encouragement with chants of: “There’s only one Stuart Horner!”

Prisoners have now each been given a letter warning of “regime curtailments” due to the disruption caused by Horner to the Category A, top security jail.

Horner, who is visible and audible from the rooftop above the walls of the jail, known locally asStrangeways, has complained about prison conditions and shouted he wants to change prison history.

He was jailed in 2012 for life, with a minimum of 27 years before parole, for the murder of his uncle, Ian Taylor, 44, with a shotgun after a family feud.

Police have warned of some traffic disruption around the area near to HMP Manchester due to temporary road closures while the protest continues.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said they were called shortly after 3.30pm on Sunday to reports a prisoner was on the roof.

A spokesman for the force said: “The man is conducting a lone protest and has managed to get onto the top of the main building and cause damage to the roof.

“Staff at the prison are working to engage with the prisoner and resolve this situation, but he has remained on the roof overnight.”

Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin of GMP added: “We are supporting our colleagues at HMP Manchester Prison to manage this incident safely, and as such we have had to temporarily close a number of roads.

“There may be some traffic disruption in the area, so those travelling past the prison are advised to allow some extra time for their journeys this morning if possible.”

Naked protester at Manchester Prison

Manchester Prison where there is a CSC Special Interventions Unit
Manchester Prison

A semi-naked protester has scaled an 18ft fence at a high security prison.

The man, wearing just his pants climbed the wall at Strangeways prison in Manchester in order to stage a demonstration.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed they received a call from prison staff asking for assistance to the “one person protest” for fear he may be seen by members of the public.

But upon local police attending, it was clear he was within an 18ft secure exercise yard and not visible to passers-by.

It is unknown why he is protesting.

A spokesman for GMP said they received a call at 3.35pm to reports of the man “being in his pants with no top”.

There was no further involvement by police after it was confirmed he could only be seen within the Bury New Road prison.