Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons

Inspector finds "impressive & innovative" work at HMP Gartree

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 00:01 GMT Jump to Comments

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has released a report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Gartree - the Category B training prison in Leicestershire.

HMP Gartree is a category B training prison for adult male life-sentenced prisoners. Its task is to help the men it holds to make progress in the long process of reducing their risks before eventual release.

At its last inspection in 2010, inspectors found it was steadily improving. This more recent unannounced inspection carried out from 10-21 March 2014 found that improvement was continuing. The prison was mostly a safe and decent place and work to reduce the risk that men would reoffend was good. The exception was in the amount of work, training and education the prison was providing, which was much too low for a training prison and threatened to undermine progress in other areas.

The inspectors found that most prisoners said they felt safe at Gartree, which has been hailed as "a real achievement". The number of prisoner on prisoner assaults was low and despite two suicides since the last inspection, there was a relatively low number of self-harm incidents.

The quality of some of the education and training on offer at Gartree was deemed good with high qualification success rates, very good relationships between staff and prisoners and the work being done to reduce the risk of reoffending was underpinned by good relationships and "was better than inspectors normally see". Gartree is "running some impressive and innovative offending behaviour programmes."

Inspectors, however, were concerned to find that there were insufficient activity places for the population and the prison did not make the best use of the places it had. Some of the contract workshops, furthermore, did not have sufficient work to keep prisoners fully occupied.

Inspectors felt that the range of education on offer was too narrow, though managers had recognised that they needed to improve this and plans were in place.

A new incentives and earned privileges scheme (IEP) had been introduced and prisoners are complaining, "with justification", that they have lost their ‘enhanced’ status because there are not enough formal opportunities available in which they were now required to demonstrate their positive behaviour.

There were many accounts from prisoners about the availability of drugs and illicitly brewed alcohol.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said “In many ways, the men held at Gartree and the wider community into which they will eventually be released are served well. The prison is safe, decent and works effectively and innovatively to help men reduce the risk that they will reoffend. However, there is still room for improvement. Some processes need to be tightened up and the prison needs to do more to reduce the risks of the too easily available drugs and alcohol. Above all, Gartree must ensure there is enough good quality activity available to provide all the men it holds with purpose, structure and the possibility of progress.”

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

"This is a positive report, which shows real progress being made at Gartree in providing both a safe environment and strong rehabilitation programmes for the prisoners it holds. The Governor and his staff are working to address areas where further improvements can be made, particularly in education and purposeful activity."

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