HM Inspectorate of Prisons recently published a report on its unannounced inspection of HMP Garth.
HMP Garth holds over 800 adult male prisoners. Nearly every prisoner was serving in excess of four years, with half serving over 10 years and 200 serving life. Nearly everyone had been convicted of serious violent offences and just under a quarter of the population were housed in separated accommodation because they had been convicted of sex offences. Garth was managing considerable risk. At its last inspection in 2014, inspectors found a prison experiencing staff shortages and transitioning to a new role and function. Since then, inspectors were told the prison had gone into a steep decline in performance. That decline had, to an extent, been arrested over the past 18 months, and at this more recent inspection it was clear that progress had been made, notably with work to support the rehabilitation, progression and resettlement of prisoners. The prison, however, was very unsafe.
HMCIP Peter Clarke said:
“This was an unusual inspection of contrasting and conflicting outcomes. The progress in rehabilitative work was real and speaks to the potential this establishment has. The prison was, however, one of the most unsafe we have been to in recent times. Violence and drugs dominated the prisoner experience. The prison faces some further uncertainty as a new governor and deputy governor are to be appointed. The management team, in our view, were getting to grips with the challenges they faced, but staff supervision and confidence needed to get better and there needed to be some new thinking on how to reduce violence and maintain better control on the wings.”
The report, published on 19 April 2017, can be found here.