Report finds Ford prison to be safe but raises concerns over diversity

Ford Prison April 2015 SUS-150904-195409001

Ford Prison April 2015 SUS-150904-195409001

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A report on Ford prison has deemed it to be ‘safe and purposeful’ but highlighted concerns over diversity and ‘grubby’ units.

The findings of the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which carried out an unannounced inspection of the open prison, were released today (October 18).

In the report Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, said: “HMP Ford has made good progress and is working well to prepare men for release.”

It stated HMP Ford held just over 470 men at the time of its inspection and a new governor had been appointed some two months beforehand. The positives highlighted included that ‘the prison was clearly safe and decent and took very seriously its responsibilities to those who had been entrusted to its care’.

Inspectors were also said to be pleased to find that:

there was little evidence of bullying or self-harm, levels of violence were low and few prisoners said that they felt unsafe;

security was proportionate, the prison felt stable and the number of absconds had reduced year on year;

support for substance misusers was very good;

relationships between staff and prisoners were generally positive;

the few prisoners who had been monitored for being at risk of self-harm or suicide said they had been well supported by staff;

the management of learning and skills was good, as was the quality of teaching;

there were sufficient, mostly high quality work, training and education places within the prison, but too few placements in the community; and the offender management unit was effective, as prisoners had regular contact with their offender supervisor and sentence planning was good.

However, the report also included inspector’s concerns.

These included: for the third consecutive inspection, a lack of proper attention was still being paid to diversity issues and, in particular, there had been a failure to understand the disproportionate treatment of black and minority ethnic prisoners; the residential units were grubby and poorly maintained; and the strategic oversight of resettlement activity had deteriorated, access to resettlement services was confusing, and the use of release on temporary licence (ROTL) had declined.

Mr Clarke said: “On the whole, this is a good inspection report. The new governor and his team are clearly committed to moving the prison forward. The progress that has been made in the past, particularly since the serious disturbance in 2011, is a credit to the prison staff and leadership. The findings of this inspection report would have been even more positive if some key recommendations that we had made previously have been addressed and implemented.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the national offender management service, said: “This report demonstrates the good work taking place at Ford. The prison has made significant improvements implementing the majority of recommendations from previous Inspection reports.

“There remains more to do, particularly around improving outcomes for black and minority ethnic prisoners, and the governor is committed to addressing the concerns which have been highlighted to further improve the performance of the prison.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 18 October 2016 at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons