HMP Hindley – serious failings

The length of time prisoners were kept locked up each day at HMP Hindley was unjustifiable, and the daily routine was one of the worst inspectors had seen, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the category C prison near Wigan.

HMP Hindley was last inspected in 2014 when it was a young offender institution. It was re-roled to a men’s prison in April 2015 and at the time of this more recent inspection, it held 515 prisoners. If it were not for some positive things happening, mainly in the non-residential parts of the prison, and energetic leadership from the new governor, inspectors could easily have awarded the prison the lowest possible grades in all four healthy prison tests: safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Inspectors found that almost every aspect of prison life for prisoners was adversely affected by the regime, or daily routine. Many prisoners were locked up all day. Not enough prisoners were getting to education and training. On one day during the inspection, just 14% of eligible prisoners were able to attend education. Many were therefore being denied opportunities to embark on a path of rehabilitation.. The frustration felt by prisoners was palpable. There were undoubtedly good plans to improve things but good intentions were not being translated into action on the wings and there was a clear disconnect between management intentions and actual service delivery.

Inspectors were also concerned to find that:

  • the number of violent incidents, including assaults and fights, remained high despite the severely restricted regime and prisoners had poor perceptions about their safety;
  • 49% of prisoners said it was easy to get hold of illegal drugs, while 16% had developed a drug problem since entering the prison;
  • many prisoners did not receive a shower or telephone call on arrival and spent their first night in unacceptable conditions;
  • prisoners at risk of self-harm were not adequately supported and the limited and inconsistent regime, poor staff-prisoner relationships and ineffective personal officer scheme increased feelings of isolation and alienation of prisoners at risk;
  • residential wings were dirty, some landings were filthy and inspectors found mould and fungus;
  • prisoners struggled to access basic entitlements such as showers, clean clothing, bedding and cleaning materials; and
  • resettlement provision was limited and in some cases ineffective, due to diminished resources in the offender management unit, lack of integration of resettlement work across the prison and confused and disjointed work of the community rehabilitation company and pathway providers.

Peter Clarke said:

“To make progress, there needs to be a very clear recognition of what is good at Hindley, and also where there needs to be fundamental change. Many examples of good practice could be found in the chaplaincy, education and health care. The same could not be said for residential areas. There needs to be an honest appraisal of the culture that predominates among some staff in these areas. The governor needs to be supported by his senior team in the delivery of clear, proactive and intrusive leadership. Those who choose to stand in the way of change should have their ability to do so diminished. There is no good reason why Hindley should not become a safe, decent and respectful prison. There is also no good reason why standards should be lower than at similar prisons.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

  1. A copy of the full report can be found here.
  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. HMP Hindley is a category C prison holding adult males sentenced up to four years and young males, aged 18-21 serving sentences of over 12 months and up to four years.
  4. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 4-15 July 2016.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HM Inspectorate of Prisons press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information.