HMP Buckley Hall – an effective training prison

HMP Buckley Hall was providing good work, training and education for prisoners, and had the potential to become a high-performing prison, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the category C prison near Rochdale.

HMP Buckley Hall is a training prison which holds adult male prisoners serving sentences of four years or more, with most staying for over two years and just under half in excess of four years. Prisoners are normally expected to progress to open conditions or to be resettled from establishments close to their home areas. As at its previous inspection in 2012, despite some deterioration, inspectors found a prison that continues to ensure reasonably good or better outcomes in most areas.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • prisoners had a good amount of time out of cell and most were involved in full-time work or learning;
  • learning and skills provision was effective and the range and quality of education and vocational training were good;
  • learner achievement on most courses was high, while attendance at activities and behaviour management at activities were also generally good;
  • offender management work was well integrated and focused on linking prisoners to activity and work;
  • work was in place to mitigate the frustrations of too many prisoners arriving without an up-to-date risk assessment (OASys);
  • public protection work was well managed;
  • the prison was generally safe and levels of violence were low; and
  • arrangements to support those at risk of self-harm were adequate, although levels of self-harm had increased since the 2012 inspection.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • some successful work had been undertaken to try to reduce drug supply, but nearly two-thirds of prisoners said it was easy to get drugs;
  • use of force had increased significantly;
  • a small but significant number of staff were disengaged and undermining the otherwise positive ethos in the prison;
  • the promotion of equality needed more energy and direction; and
  • there were potentially unsafe practices in the prescribing and administration of methadone.

Peter Clarke said:

“This was a good and generally encouraging report. Buckley Hall was a settled institution which was clear about its role and purpose. Prisoners were mostly positive about their experiences and outcomes were good, notably in the prison’s core function of providing work, learning and skills. We have highlighted a number of issues that require attention, one of them urgently, but overall these are matters that can be addressed quickly and suggest Buckley Hall has the potential to become a high-performing establishment.”

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

“I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector has commended the excellent work going on at Buckley Hall to provide training opportunities for prisoners to turn their lives around.

“Action has been taken to address the urgent recommendations in the report including improved training for staff to tackle violence and improved medication procedures.”


– 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 Buckley Hall is a category C male training prison holding prisoners sentenced to four years and over.
  4. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 6-17 June 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.