HMP Erlestoke - a well-led and effective prison

HMP Erlestoke was safe, decent and purposeful and well focused on rehabilitation, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the training jail in Wiltshire.

HMP Erlestoke was last inspected in 2011 and was said to be improving by inspectors. This inspection found those improvements had been sustained and built on and the prison ensured reasonably good outcomes for prisoners across a range of healthy prison tests. Erlestoke fulfilled a national responsibility, delivering a number of important, high intensity offending behaviour programmes. This complemented its purpose as an establishment providing rehabilitative services to longer-term prisoners. Nearly half of its 488 prisoners were serving indeterminate sentences and three-quarters were aged over 30. This brought advantages in terms of the stability and maturity of the population but also the recognition that many of those held had been capable of serious offences and there were significant risks still to be managed.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • Erlestoke was a safe place with little violence and a calm atmosphere;
  • there were good arrangements to support those at risk of self-harm and there were few incidents;
  • some bullying was evident but the prison was addressing this adequately;
  • accommodation standards varied with impressive newer facilities, though older units were more rundown;
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were a key strength of the prison;
  • prisoner complaints were dealt with seriously and prisoners reported positively about health care;
  • prisoners had a good amount of time unlocked and most had access to purposeful activity;
  • there was effective development of employability skills and some impressive vocational training;
  • the range of offending behaviour programmes was impressive, although some prisoners only accessed them post-tariff; and
  • resettlement provision was generally good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • not all prisoners were subject to an adequate risk assessment before co-location and more needed to be done to improve the induction of new arrivals;
  • the segregation environment and regime were poor and arrangements to ensure accountability in segregation and reintegration of prisoners following segregation also required improvement;
  • despite a vigorous approach to reducing the supply of drugs and mandatory drug testing, suggesting that illicit drug use was being tackled, nearly half of prisoners still thought it was easy to get drugs; and
  • teaching and achievements in education were not good enough and only a third of the population were involved in learning.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Overall this is a good report about a well-led and effective prison. Erlestoke is a safe, respectful and purposeful place that is working towards meeting prisoner need. We have identified a number of issues that the prison needs to address but most are well within the grasp of the governor and the staff to put right.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the continued progress that has been made at Erlestoke and the respectful, safe and focused rehabilitative environment it provides for the prisoners it holds – this is a credit to the hard work of the Governor and his staff.

“The prison are now working to build on the progress that has already been made and to address the recommendations put forward in the report.”

Notes to Editors:
1. Read the report.
2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
3. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 30 September – 11 October 2013.
4. HMP Erlestoke is a category C training prison for adult male sentenced prisoners. It has a focus on the rehabilitation of a longer-term population and is a national resource for high-intensity programmes on domestic violence, alcohol-related violence and substance abuse.
5. Please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Prisons press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview.