HMP Lancaster Farms – competent and decent prison with the capacity to improve further

HMP Lancaster Farms, a resettlement prison in Lancashire, showed some improvements over three years but not enough for inspectors to change their assessments from their previous visit.

The prison was led by a confident management, with a generally competent staff. There were opportunities for prisoners who wanted to turn their lives around but inspectors believed the jail could do more to improve the life chances of less motivated men.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “In 2015 we found a prison that was reasonably safe and respectful but with more to do to improve outcomes in learning and skills as well as resettlement. At this inspection the evidence pointed clearly to some improvement, but overall our healthy prison assessments remained the same.”

The prison was calm and ordered and most violent incidents, with some exceptions, were relatively less serious than comparator prisons. Support for those prisoners who self-isolated or entered segregation to escape intimidation was better than in 2015 but still insufficient. The use of force by staff had increased noticeably but was poorly documented. Care for those at risk of self-harm was reasonably good, but too many experienced an isolated life and levels of self-harm were much higher than at the previous inspection.

Despite a series of initiatives to tackle drugs there was, Mr Clarke said, “considerable evidence of a drug problem within the prison… Many prisoners thought it was easy to get hold of illicit substances and testing suggested a high, but reducing, positive rate.”

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“Lancaster Farms remained a competent prison enabled by a capable management team and a generally confident staff. There was a definite sense that if you were a motivated prisoner with a determination to improve your own life chances, there were opportunities and resources that were available for you in the prison. In contrast, if you were less motivated, you could easily opt out with too little challenge from the institution. This was a missed opportunity. Lancaster Farms was a decent enough place in comparison to many similar prisons, but it can do more and do it better.”

Read the full press release and report.