Independent Reviews of Progress (IRPs)

We launched Independent Reviews of Progress (IRPs) in 2019 because ministers wanted an independent assessment of how far prisons had implemented our recommendations following particularly concerning inspections.

IRPs are not inspections and do not result in us making new judgements against our healthy prison tests. Instead, they judge progress being made against the key recommendations made at the previous inspection. IRPs:

  • provide an independent, evidence-based assessment of how the prison is progressing against the key recommendations identified at the previous inspection
  • assess progress in terms of outcomes for prisoners in the areas of main concern
  • offer feedback and guidance to help the prison improve
  • identify emerging difficulties in meeting the key recommendations
  • assess the quality of the leadership and management response to the key concerns from the previous inspection.

We announce IRPs in advance and they take place eight to 12 months after the original inspection. They last 2.5 days and involve a small team of four or five inspectors. We aim to publish reports within 25 working days of the end of the visit.

We usually conduct 15 to 20 IRPs each year. We sometimes work with partner organisations, including Care Quality Commission (CQC), Ofsted and Estyn, depending on the focus of the IRP.

We make judgements on progress, relating to each individual recommendation that is being followed up. The four judgements are:

  • No meaningful progress
  • Insufficient progress
  • Reasonable progress
  • Good progress

Prison staff can find out more in our guide for prison staff (401 kB). Further information about the methodology for IRPs and how to conduct them is contained in our guide to IRPs for HMI Prisons staff (220 kB) and appendices (451 kB). You can also read IRP reports on our website.