HMP Hindley report slams 'unjustifiable' prison regime

HM Prison Hindley Image copyright Google
Image caption Inspectors say Hindley has one of the "worst" daily routines they have seen

A prison where inmates spent an "unjustifiable" amount of time in cells had one of the worst daily routines inspectors said they had ever seen.

Inmates at Greater Manchester's HMP Hindley were regularly locked in cells for more than 24 hours, leaving them unable to attend work or education.

Inspectors said almost every aspect of prisoners' life was adversely affected by the regime at the jail near Wigan.

"Fundamental change" was needed, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said.

During the visit to the category C prison in July, inspectors found "palpable" frustration among the prisoners who were often in their cells all day.

Inspectors also found:

  • a high number of assaults and fights, which remained high despite the severely restricted regime
  • easy access to drugs with 49% of prisoners saying they could obtain illegal drugs and 16% developing a drug problem since entering the prison
  • poor prisoner-staff relationships with inadequate support for inmates at risk of self-harm
  • dirty residential wings with filthy landings
  • prisoners struggling to get showers, clean clothing, bedding and cleaning materials.

Mr Clarke said: "To make progress, there needs to be a very clear recognition of what is good at Hindley, and also where there needs to be fundamental change.

"Many examples of good practice could be found in the chaplaincy, education and health care," he said. But he added: "The same could not be said for residential areas.

"There needs to be an honest appraisal of the culture that predominates among some staff in these areas. The governor needs to be supported by his senior team in the delivery of clear, proactive and intrusive leadership."

One former prison officer, who worked at Hindley when it was a young offenders' institution, told the BBC how staff had tried to raise concerns about conditions more than a decade ago.

"It was round about 2005 when we were speaking in union meetings saying: 'You keep reducing the staffing levels then what's going to happen is that, within a matter of ten years, you are going to cause big issues where there's going to be staff being attacked, prisoners being attacked and lads left behind the doors on a constant basis'.

"And this is exactly what we said," he said.

'Gang behaviour tackled'

Hindley held 515 male inmates at the time of the visit. The prison had last been inspected in 2014 when it was a young offender institution.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: "Since the inspection a detailed improvement plan was developed to address the weaknesses identified by inspectors and this is being closely monitored.

"Progress has been made to improve safety and purposeful activity with more prisoners engaged in high quality work and training opportunities.

"Additional staff have been transferred into the prison to support the improvements required and the governor is working closely with Greater Manchester Police to tackle gang behaviour and violence in the prison."

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