HMP RANBY – “SAFETY REMAINS A SIGNIFICANT CONCERN” SAYS INSPECTORS

RanbyNot enough progress had been made at HMP Ranby, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the Nottinghamshire training and resettlement prison.

HMP Ranby holds just over 1,000 men. The accommodation is arranged in two distinct parts: house blocks 1 to 3 were older and generally delivered poorer outcomes than newer house blocks 4 to 7. At an inspection in 2014, inspectors reported significant concerns about the prison as a whole and about safety in particular. There had been improvement in some areas but this more recent inspection 17 months later found inadequate progress overall and safety remained a significant concern. A number of factors had combined to undermine progress. The role of the prison had become more complex and in addition to its function as a working prison that should have kept men occupied in education, training, work and offending behaviour courses, it now had a new role as a resettlement prison which received men in the last three months of their sentence and prepared them for release in the local area. A lack of work for some of the workshops and staff absences meant many prisoners had too little to do. There were problems resolving simple domestic issues.

On top of this, the prison was attempting to combat a surge in the availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS). Health services were at risk of being overwhelmed by the need to treat the most seriously affected. The trade in NPS was leading to high levels of debt and associated violence.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • too many prisoners held on the large house blocks 1 to 3 and staff working on the units said they felt unsafe;
  • the number of violent incidents was much higher than in similar establishments;
  • assaults on staff had increased significantly and a number of very serious incidents had occurred;
  • in the 17 months between inspections there had been six self-inflicted deaths;
  • prisoners in house blocks 1 to 3 reported difficulties obtaining cleaning materials, clean clothes and clean bedding, staff appeared very busy with little time to talk to prisoners, and this was compounded by the long time many prisoners spent locked behind their doors;
  • too many men were locked in their cells during the working day because of a shortage of workshop instructors and delays in materials arriving;
  • the quality of some teaching and learning provision needed to improve;
  • even when activity places were available, attendance and punctuality were often poor; and
  • the backlog of OASys assessments required to assess prisoners’ risks, and on which sentence plans should have been based, remained extensive.

The prison was trying to respond to challenges and there were signs of improvement in some areas. Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • fewer prisoners than at the last inspection said they felt unsafe at the time of the inspection or that they had been victimised, although this was still significantly higher than comparable prisons;
  • early days support was much better;
  • there were effective systems in place to collect and use intelligence, and there were good links with the local police;
  • security measures generally struck a sensible balance between the need to get men to activities and provide adequate supervision;
  • the environment on house blocks 4 to 7 varied from reasonable to good and some good efforts were being made to keep the environment on house blocks 1 to 3 decent;
  • health care provision was clinically sound and provided an appropriate range of services, although these were stretched as a result of NPS; and
  • there was a developing understanding of the strategic priorities for resettlement and reasonably good provision of practical resettlement services, but this was undermined by poor offender management support.

Martin Lomas said:

“HMP Ranby had not made sufficient progress since the previous inspection. We remain seriously concerned about the stability of the prison, the safety of prisoners and staff and the inadequate measures being taken to prepare prisoners for release and reduce the risk they will reoffend.

“The prison has already been provided with some additional staff and there is more to be done by prison managers to improve outcomes. However, the prison faces the challenge of a destabilising supply of NPS which threatens to overwhelm it. The harm caused by NPS in prisons requires a national policy. There should be an immediate temporary reduction in the population to give staff the opportunity to regroup. The prison is struggling to cope with its dual working and resettlement prison roles. The resettlement role involves a very high throughput of challenging prisoners, some of whom have little investment in the opportunities the prison offers because they are so near to their release. The prison should return to being a working prison if only so that it is able to concentrate fully on that task.”

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

“Following September’s Inspection we have taken decisive action to support the prison in making the required improvements including; reducing the population by 120 prisoners and increasing prison staff. In addition, we have changed Ranby’s role to give it a longer sentenced, more stable prisoner population.

“NPS remains a real concern in prisons and we are introducing a new testing regime which will be rolled out across the country from April. Legislation is in place to ban so called ‘legal highs’ and we will continue to work with police to disrupt supply chains and take robust action against anyone found supplying or using NPS in prisons.

“There remains some way to go, but I’m confident that Ranby is now on the right track”.

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 25 February 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP ROCHESTER – PROGRESS HAS STALLED SAY INSPECTORS

HMP Rochester
HMP Rochester

Progress had stalled at HMP Rochester, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison in Kent. (see also prison officers ignore use of legal highs)

HMP Rochester holds around 740 adult and young adult male prisoners on a mix of old and new accommodation situated on a large site. Prisoners serve a full range of sentences from the relatively short up to life. At its last inspection in 2013, the prison was undergoing significant management and operational change as an early adopter of a benchmarking and efficiency programme. The prison was emerging from another period of transition and was only now getting near to the full complement of staff needed and a more consistent delivery of its daily routine. The prison was not progressing and resettlement services provision had deteriorated. Safety remained a significant concern.

 

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • a fifth of prisoners reported feeling unsafe, first night and induction arrangements were inadequate and levels of violence were too high;
  • mandatory drug testing suggested higher than expected levels of drug use and there was evidence of considerable amounts of new psychoactive substances in the prison, yet too many staff seemed complacent of the issue and its impact;
  • levels of self-harm were high and care for those at risk was inadequate;
  • the use of formal disciplinary procedures was high, use of force was high and increasing, and the use of the special cell was very high for a training prison;
  • living conditions were poor and work to promote equality was weak;
  • progress in education, training and work was undermined by poor attendance, and staff were not sufficiently attentive in getting prisoners to work or education on time; and
  • resettlement work was disjointed and offender management required improvement.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • prisoners were generally positive about their relationship with staff, although inspectors felt that too much poor behaviour went unchallenged by staff;
  • prisoners had very good access to time out of cell;
  • the prison had improved the amount of purposeful activity since its last inspection, which was now sufficient to meet the needs of the population; and
  • the range of education, training and work places was good, as was vocational and classroom teaching;

Nick Hardwick said:

“Rochester is a prison which has gone through big changes in recent years but has not made the progress hoped for. It is a prison, however, not without advantages. It is near to having the number of staff it needs, it has sufficient activity and it has a clear purpose serving as a resettlement prison to its local community. We were told of plans for the future but our overriding impression was that it was a prison that just needed to focus on the basics. A robust drug strategy, cleaning the prison up, getting prisoners to work on time and some joined-up thinking about their approach to resettling prisoners would be good places to start.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“As the Chief Inspector has found, Rochester faces a significant challenge from new psychoactive substances, or so called ‘legal highs’. Staff are determined to tackle this and have already put in place additional security measures, as well as increasing awareness about the dangers and extending support to overcome substance misuse issues.

“Since this inspection, progress has also been made to improve safety and purposeful activity with more prisoners engaged in high quality work and training opportunities.

“We will use the recommendations in this report to drive further improvements over the coming months.”

 

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP/YOI HATFIELD – A SAFE, DECENT AND PURPOSEFUL RESETTLEMENT PRISON

hatfieldHMP/YOI Hatfield had come through change and uncertainty and was now confidently establishing its priorities and showing significant improvement, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison in South Yorkshire.

HMP/YOI Hatfield had in recent years been part of the South Yorkshire cluster of prisons and managed collaboratively alongside HMPs Moorland and Lindholme. At the conclusion of a failed market test in late 2013, the prison was retained in the public sector and since April 2015 has been re-established as a separate institution. The prison holds about 270 category D adult male prisoners and is on two sites – the original Hatfield site and a new addition, a disused section of neighbouring HMP Lindholme, now referred to as the Lakes Unit. Hatfield achieved inspectors’ highest assessment across all four tests of a healthy prison – safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

· there had been really good work to develop the Lakes Unit as an effective reception/induction facility and nearly all prisoners said they felt safe on their first night;

· there was little violence or self-harm, security was applied proportionately and illicit drug use appeared low;

· the environment at both sites was generally very good and living conditions and access to amenities had improved;

· relationships between staff and prisoners were excellent;

· prisoners had good access to an open prison regime;

· the provision of work, training and education was focused, well planned and coherent and assessed as outstanding by Ofsted;

· excellent partnerships with local employers were providing high quality training, employment and progression opportunities in paid and unpaid roles;

· teachers and managers had high expectations of prisoners;

· although the prison’s approach to resettlement would have benefited from better coordination and greater attention given to offender management work, all prisoners had an allocated offender supervisor and most risk assessments were of good quality; and

· there was good partnership working between the prison, education providers, the National Careers Service and the community rehabilitation company.

Inspectors were, however, concerned to find that there was some evidence concerning the diversion of prescribed medication and the emergence of new psychoactive substances.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Hatfield was a very good prison. It was well led and had a clear vision of what it was trying to achieve. Change and new initiatives were thought through and planned well, and there was a competence about the way new work was delivered. Prisoners were treated with respect, risk was managed properly and proportionately and prisoners had an incentive to invest in what they could achieve for themselves and their futures. The governor and his team deserve credit for their work in developing this effective prison.”

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

“As the Chief Inspector has found, Hatfield is a safe and well-run prison, where prisoners are being given excellent support to turn their lives around upon release.

“The Governor and his staff deserve huge credit for their crucial role in rehabilitating offenders, including providing high quality education, training and employment opportunities.

“Staff will now use this report to build on the successes and achieve further improvement.”

Notes to editors:

1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorate.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP ASHFIELD – A WELL RUN PRISON

ashfieldHMP Ashfield was performing well after its change of role, but needed to improve the education it provided for prisoners, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison near Bristol.

HMP Ashfield was originally a facility for young people. Its role changed in 2013 and the prison now holds approximately 400 adult male prisoners, all convicted of sex offences. Most prisoners were serving long sentences with over half doing in excess of ten years or an indeterminate sentence. The process of transition had been managed well. The prison was calm and managers and staff were properly focused on the challenges of their new function, although the provision of work and education still had to be fully addressed. In most other respects, the outcomes inspectors observed were very good.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

·         Ashfield was safe, violent incidents and self-harm were low, but those in crisis were properly cared for;

·         security was proportionate;

·         prisoners lived in clean and decent conditions;

·         relationships between staff and prisoners were excellent;

·         prisoners were unlocked for long periods and there was sufficient activity for most;

·         resettlement services were developing and already provided reasonable outcomes for prisoners; and

·         sentence and risk management plans were reasonable, as was public protection work.

 

However, inspectors were concerned to find that: 

·         there was some disparity between the number of white prisoners who successfully recategorised to D and the small numbers of black prisoners who were successful;

·         most of the education, in particular English and maths, was too low level and the quality of teaching varied;

·         some teachers were not appropriately qualified and some classes were led by unsupervised peer supporters; and

·         the prison needed to do more to address the risks presented by the significant number of prisoners who were disengaged because they were in denial of their sexual offending.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Overall this is a very good report for a prison that has undergone a radical change of direction. Priorities going forward are to ensure work, training and education is fully fit for purpose, and that the prison has a more sophisticated and better coordinated approach to addressing the risks posed by a sex offender population. This seemed to us well within the competence of a prison that is well led and run by a capable and caring staff team.”

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

“Ashfield is a well-managed prison which has adapted well to its current role holding sex offenders.

“As the Chief Inspector has found, it is a safe and decent prison, where staff are protecting the public effectively from the risks presented by this type of offender.

“We will continue to support the prison to improve the quality of education and training opportunities, which will further underpin the rehabilitation of the prisoners held there.”

 

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

 

First 24 hours in prison – Conclusions of the new report out today by HMI Prisons

receptionToday’s report concludes

Conclusion
1.55
A prisoner’s reception and first 24 hours in prison is a high-risk time. Prisoners experience reception and their first 24 hours in custody differently, depending on their personal characteristics and previous experience of prison. They may have strong feelings of remorse or shame, concern about family members or be apprehensive about what will happen to them in prison. There will usually have been little effort to allay their concerns while they wait in court. We found mostly positive treatment by reception staff but routine strip-searching was the norm in many establishments and prisoners were not always given enough information on what was going to happen to them. There were also concerns surrounding the experiences of individuals in the first night centres. In many of the establishments we inspected, night staff were unaware of the new receptions and we were not sufficiently assured that first night interviews and CSRAs were always completed to a satisfactory standard. First night accommodation was not always prepared properly (for example, it was not clean or lacked basic necessities such as bedding).
1.56
On the whole, those who had been remanded in custody or were in prison for the first time reported much less positive experiences of their first 24 hours in custody. As the first point of contact which this group of prisoners, who are vulnerable and often completely unknown to staff, will have with the prison system, local prisons need to do more to ensure that reception and induction processes aim to support these ‘at risk’ individuals more effectively.

16 Life in prison: The first 24 hours in prison
1.57
Through our inspections, we found the most common weaknesses in prison reception processes to be:

prisoners being strip-searched without individual risk assessments being applied

staff not giving clear and accurate information to help prisoners understand what is going to happen to them

first night accommodation often being underprepared for the new arrivals (inadequately clean or not containing the correct provisions, such as bedding and plastic dining utensils)

staff not undertaking thorough first night interviews and therefore insufficiently assessing risks that new arrivals pose to themselves and others.
1.58
However, recent increased use of peer support workers to provide support to new arrivals and help them to adjust to their new environment is a positive development, although prisons need to ensure that peer support workers do not have access to new arrivals’ confidential information and are not given inappropriate responsibilities. We also found evidence of good staff identification and support for new arrivals in some cases.
1.59
The first 24 hours in custody is a crucial time for prisoners. It is a time when prisoners are at their most distressed and risks of self-harm and suicide are extremely high46. It is therefore extremely important that individuals are made to feel safe and supported by staff and other prisoners. Staff should take time to explain what is going to happen to a prisoner during their time at an establishment, particularly in their first few days. Staff should be properly trained to identify risk factors, while also taking their time to fully assess prisoners’ anxieties. Accurate completion of risk assessments can help to ensure that prisoners are safe from harm in their early days in custody.

READ THE REPORT

HMYOI Feltham A – making real progress

felthamHMYOI Feltham’s work with boys under 18 (the ‘A’ side) had made real improvements, despite some continuing serious safety concerns, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the young offender institution in West London.

Staff and managers at Feltham have one of the most difficult jobs in the prison system. Feltham A held 180 boys, most aged 16 or 17, with very complex and challenging behaviour, some of whom were a danger to themselves and to other boys and staff. Often the boys held at Feltham have been written off by community agencies and the resources and staff Feltham has to meet the needs of those held there are insufficient for the task. Nevertheless, despite continuing serious concerns, this inspection found Feltham A making real progress with credible and positive plans for the future.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • progress was being made on the introduction of new restraint processes that emphasised de-escalation;
  • managers responded to the challenges of violence in a positive and thoughtful way, and there was a clear strategy to provide greater incentives for good behaviour as well as sanctions for bad;
  • some staff acted very courageously to protect boys from assaults and placed themselves at risk in doing so;
  • there were well developed plans to open an enhanced support unit for boys with greater needs;
  • the use of body-worn cameras by staff appeared to be having a positive effect;
  • substance misuse services had improved and were excellent;
  • support for boys at risk of self-harm was generally good;
  • education staff had made good plans to meet the new requirement to offer 30 hours’ education a week,
  • relationships between staff and boys were the best they have been for many years;
  • the environment was generally good and work on equality and diversity issues was effective; and
  • a team of committed caseworkers worked hard to provide good resettlement support and social workers ensured local authorities met their obligations to looked after boys.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the number of violent incidents remained very high, although it had reduced since the last inspection;
  • a small number of boys were too frightened to leave their cells and spent about 23 hours a day locked away;
  • in the seven months from January to July 2015, 49 officers had been injured and 40 assaults on staff had been referred to the police;
  • the use of segregation in the bleak care and separation unit shared with young adults was high, though there were plans to open a separate new unit, designed to meet the needs of 15 to 18-year-olds;
  • the levels of violence and poor behaviour were impacting on Feltham’s ability to get boys out of their cells and into purposeful activity; and
  • more needed to be done to motivate boys who struggled in the classroom by improving the quality of teaching and a better mix with vocational training.

Nick Hardwick said:

“There is much to be learnt from the history of Feltham and some of the impressive staff and managers who work there. The review the government has recently started into youth justice should look, listen and learn. Feltham A has a long way to go at present and there are very serious concerns about the safety of the boys held there. However, it is making real progress and it has the right strategy to make more. It has impressive, committed leadership and staff are responding to that. Sustained, consistent effort will be needed to make the further improvements required, there may well be setbacks, and it will be important that managers and staff receive equivalent sustained and consistent support from both the Youth Justice Board and National Offender Management Service.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“Feltham faces some difficult challenges, but, as the Chief Inspector says, real progress is being made. This reflects some really impressive work by the Governor and his staff who deserve huge credit for their dedication, professionalism, commitment and resilience.

“I’m pleased that the report highlights good relationships between staff and children. Although there remains more to do, progress has continued since the inspection with assaults on staff down by 11% and use of force down by almost a quarter. An improved regime has also been introduced, and boys are now spending more time out of their cells.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

 

HMP Lowdham Grange – Many strengths but safety has deteriorated

lowdhamHMP Lowdham Grange was doing some good work with the long-term prisoners it held, but it needed to improve safety, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training prison near Nottingham.

HMP Lowdham Grange holds longer-term category B prisoners from across the country. Many prisoners there have committed serious offences. Two-thirds are over the age of 30 and nearly all are serving sentences of more than four years. Over 40% of the population are serving indeterminate sentences, and more than 100 are serving life sentences. At its last inspection in 2011, inspectors commended the prison as impressively safe, decent and purposeful. This more recent inspection found that overall the prison continued to ensure some very positive outcomes for those held, but safety had deteriorated and the prison had yet to deal with the levels of violence.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the prison was clean, spacious and the grounds were well maintained;
  • some relationships between staff and prisoners were good, and equality was well promoted;
  • work to support prisoners with mental health needs was good;
  • prisoners had good access to time out of cell and the majority were engaged in work, training or education during the working day;
  • there was sufficient activity for all with a good range of work and training opportunities available;
  • teaching was good and achievement rates were generally high;
  • work to reduce the risk of reoffending was underpinned by a useful assessment of need and arrangements were well managed;
  • the offender management team were experienced and knowledgeable and worked well with this high-risk group of offenders;
  • there was a useful range of offending behaviour interventions and public protection work was robust; and
  • prisoners were effectively encouraged to progress through their sentence and the few who were discharged received good support.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • levels of violence between prisoners and towards staff were high and too much of it was serious;
  • nearly half of prisoners surveyed said they had felt unsafe at Lowdham and a quarter felt unsafe in the prison during the inspection;
  • the incentives and earned privileges scheme was applied rigidly and in a counterproductive manner that arguably discouraged positive behaviour;
  • the use of disciplinary procedures had nearly doubled since the last inspection and use of force was both high and higher than at comparable prisons;
  • the use of special accommodation and mechanical restraints on those in self-harm crisis was wrong and alternatives should be sought; and
  • levels of self-harm had risen and were higher than at comparable prisons, but good structures were in place to support and monitor those in crisis.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Lowdham Grange is an effective prison that is undoubtedly doing some meaningful work with long-term, high-risk offenders. The prison has many good features and the very positive approach to work and learning, as well as risk of harm reduction, is commendable. Prisoners are being helped to progress through their sentence. The lack of safety in the prison is at odds with the other strengths of the prison but the statistics speak for themselves. The prison has not been inactive in trying to deal with these problems but there is evidence to suggest that some of its responses have been reactive and unsophisticated. More work needs to be done at wing level to support the rehabilitation work of the prison and to encourage prisoners by incentivising them and continuing to support them as they are reconciled to the long sentences they face.”

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

“There is good work going on at Lowdham Grange with challenging long term offenders – but as the Chief Inspector highlights and as Serco acknowledge, there is more to do to improve safety at the prison.

“I know that the Director and her team are working hard to improve safety across Lowdham Grange and we will closely monitor progress over the coming months.”

Notes to editors:    

 A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP Standford Hill: A much improved resettlement prison

standfordhillMP Standford Hill was well led and had made significant progress, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

HMP Standford Hill was previously managed as part of a cluster of Isle of Sheppey prisons but while some services continue to be shared, the prison is now independent and has its own governor. At the time of its inspection, the prison held 456 adult men, nearly all of whom were coming to the end of a long prison sentence or nearing the expiry of a life sentence tariff. The number of prisoners with indeterminate sentences for public protection had increased significantly since the last inspection and nearly all these men were now well beyond their tariff expiry date. At its previous inspection in December 2011, inspectors found that despite some good work, resettlement work was fragmented and inconsistent. This inspection found a much improved prison where preparing men for release and resettling them back into the community was at the core of nearly everything that happened.

 

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

 

  • prisoners felt safe, early days support on arrival was good, levels of violence were low and arrangements to manage poor behaviour, when it happened, were strong;
  • prisoners clearly felt they had a personal investment in following the prison’s rules and something important to lose if they transgressed;
  • security arrangements were appropriate to an open prison and robust, while supporting resettlement work;
  • the challenges with illicit drugs and alcohol were well managed, which was a significant achievement given the large number of men working out of the prison each day;
  • the living environment was clean and decent;
  • the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners had improved overall, and some staff were excellent;
  • learning and skills provision was very good and all prisoners were occupied in some good education and work places within the prison, while over half of prisoners benefited from placements in the community;
  • resettlement services had improved and the processes to risk assess release on temporary licence (ROTL) were suitably robust and reflected recent improvements to ROTL assessment rules; and
  • offender management work was mostly good, as was support in the resettlement pathways.

 

However, inspectors found that more work needed to be done to understand the concerns of some black and minority ethnic and Muslim prisoners and to look at why their outcomes in some areas were poorer than those of white prisoners.

 

Nick Hardwick said:

 

“Standford Hill had made significant progress since our last inspection against all of our healthy prison tests, most notably in putting resettlement work at the heart of the prison. The prison was very well led, and we had confidence that it would continue to progress.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

 

“This report highlights the excellent work being done at Standford Hill to get prisoners ready for life on the outside.

“The Governor and her staff deserve huge credit for the quality of work and training provided both inside the prison and on placements in the community.

“As the Chief Inspector makes clear the prison is maintaining a clear and proper focus on public protection whilst providing excellent rehabilitation opportunities which will reduce reoffending and cut crime.”

 

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

 

HMP Bullingdon – Progress held back by shortage of staff

Bullingdon-PrisonHMP Bullingdon had started to improve but needed to do much more, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the local and resettlement prison in Oxfordshire.

HMP Bullingdon held about 1,100 adult men and young adults at the time of the inspection. The prison had a complex population for which it needed to carry out a number of distinct functions. About 40% of the men held used the prison under its new role as a local resettlement prison serving the courts of the Thames Valley area and some further afield, and preparing men for release. For the remaining 60% of category C prisoners, it acted as a training prison. The prison had been through a difficult period before this inspection. However, the establishment had begun to turn the corner, although it was still getting to grips with its new resettlement function and progress was held back by significant staff shortages in a number of critical roles. A new community resettlement company, Thames Valley CRC, had recently taken over responsibility for resettlement services for medium- and low-risk offenders but it was too early to judge how effective the new arrangements would be. Some teething problems were evident.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • data on levels of violence was unreliable and could not be used effectively to plan how to reduce violent incidents;
  • outcomes for prisoners with protected characteristics, such as disability, were not monitored adequately and the prison did not know if they were being treated equitably;
  • prisoners from black and minority ethnic backgrounds reported much more negatively than the rest of the population;
  • very large offender assessment system (OASys) backlogs hindered prisoners’ progression and compromised the management of their risk;
  • although the prison felt calm, more prisoners than at the last inspection said they did not feel safe;
  • the rise in the availability and use of Spice was a serious threat, leading to debt and bullying and there was no effective prison-wide strategy to reduce the supply of drugs;
  • there had been five self-inflicted deaths since 2012 and although prisoners at risk of self-harm said they felt well cared for, not enough was being done to reduce the risk of further deaths and to implement the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s recommendations;
  • despite having enough places to meet the needs of the population, attendance at education and training was just 50% and inspectors found more than a third of prisoners locked in their cells during the working day;
  • the prison was on a restricted regime as a result of staff shortages; and
  • there was no strategy that set out how the prison would tackle the rehabilitation of its complex population, and offender management processes were undermined by acute staff shortages.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • despite the staff shortages, relationships between staff and prisoners were generally good and inspectors saw effective direction of staff by supervising officers who had recently been reintroduced onto the wings;
  • the ‘support and mentoring unit’ was a very good initiative where prisoners who were identified as likely to struggle on normal location were allocated a mentor who helped them develop the confidence to integrate;
  • levels of self-harm were now much lower than in comparable prisons and prisoners subject to suicide and self-harm case management said they felt well cared for;
  • despite the overcrowding, the general environment was good;
  • health care was improving and was now reasonably good; and
  • the management of learning and skills and the quality of provision still required improvement, although action had been taken to halt a decline in performance and to address high staff absence levels.

 

Nick Hardwick said:

“It is clear that there is a big job to do to improve HMP Bullingdon. A start had been made on this work prior to the inspection. Good relationships and a good environment created important foundations for progress and improvements in purposeful activity and health care were evident. Work on equality and diversity issues was just getting off the ground and the new CRC created both opportunities and risks. Nevertheless, at the time of the inspection, overall outcomes were not good enough and the prison carried some significant risks. This report sets out some priority recommendations which we hope will assist the prison in making the necessary improvements.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“Staff shortages had impacted on the quality of the regime at HMP Bullingdon but as the Chief Inspector acknowledges, the Governor and his team had taken firm action to improve performance prior to this inspection in June.

“Since the inspection, 20 new members of staff have been recruited and progress has accelerated.

“More prisoners are now taking part in education and training, and the Governor has intensified action to tackle the supply of psychoactive substances.

“There remains some way to go and the Governor will use the recommendations in this report to drive further improvement over the coming months.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 29 October 2015 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

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.