Chief Inspector announces new independent reviews of progress in troubled jails

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP), Peter Clarke, has announced an important series of new follow-up visits to failing and unsafe prisons designed to give the government an independent assessment of how much progress has been made in improving the treatment and conditions for prisoners.

Independent Reviews of Progress (IRPs) will start in April 2019 and reports will be published 25 days after the visits.

IRPs will give ministers independent evidence about how far jails have implemented HMI Prisons’ recommendations following particularly concerning inspections. The Justice Select Committee supported this aim, stating that HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) should not “mark its own homework” when reporting on the achievement of recommendations.

It is currently envisaged that up to 20 IRPs – short visits of two-and-a-half days – will take place each year. HMI Prisons has secured extra funding from the Ministry of Justice to ensure it can conduct the IRPs in addition to its existing schedule of mainstream inspections of prisons and youth custody facilities in England and Wales.

Prisons will be told in advance they are subject to an IRP, in contrast to the mostly unannounced full inspections. The IRP schedule – along with a very small number of announced full inspections – will be published on the HMIP website once the IRPs have been announced.

Prisons subject to the Chief Inspector’s Urgent Notification (UN) protocol will be a priority under the IRP model.

Mr Clarke said:

“IRPs are an important new area of work for us. They are designed to give the Secretary of State an independent assessment of whether prisons we have found to be unsafe or otherwise failing are getting to grips with our key recommendations for improvement. There are many governing teams and staff working hard in very challenging jails and through our IRPs we will work constructively with them to support the improvements we all want to see.”

Read the full press release and find out more about IRPs.