HMP Forest Bank - struggling to provide reception and resettlement support

Read the report: HMP Forest Bank

Inspectors to HMP Forest Bank, the only reception and resettlement prison in the Greater Manchester area, found a prison unable to fulfil its role successfully. The prison held 1,354 prisoners, nearly 300 above its baseline capacity, and as a consequence, prisoners were often diverted to other establishments on arrival, undermining the core focus of the jail.

Ofsted rated education provision as ‘inadequate’ the lowest possible grading. Leaders were not identifying key weaknesses in teaching and training, and there was an overall lack of planning which left prisoners unable to learn useful skills while in custody. Those who had additional needs were not sufficiently supported. It was unsurprising, then, that inspectors found provision of purposeful activity to be severely lacking, judging it ‘poor’. Prisoners were locked in their cells for most of the day with limited or no access to the gym or library. Charlie Taylor, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said:

“Leaders showed limited ambition to improve this situation,” adding: “It was clear to us that the prison needed to re-think both what constituted a useful and meaningful regime and how they approached supporting resettlement for a largely transient population.”

Some improvements had been made to safety, but inspectors identified some concerns. Despite a 25% reduction, Forest Bank remained the fourth most violent prison in the country. Violent incidents were investigated appropriately and the challenge, support, and intervention plan (CSIP) was embedded effectively to deal with perpetrators, but the adjudications process was overwhelmed by the number of cases, leaving some violent offenders unpunished.

Mr Taylor described Forest Bank as a “prison in transition”:

“The prison was still dealing with some significant weaknesses; however, our findings were more encouraging.”

– End –

Notes to editors

  1. Read the HMP Forest Bank report, published on 31 May 2022.
  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 Forest Bank opened in 2000 as a local prison serving the courts of Greater Manchester. Accommodation was initially provided over six residential units with a further two added in 2009. Single and double cellular accommodation was available, along with an inpatient facility in the health care centre. Forest Bank held remand and sentenced adult men and young adults.
  4. HMP Forest Bank is a men’s reception and resettlement prison.
  5. At the time of this inspection, the establishment held 1,354 prisoners.
  6. Inspectors identified four examples of notable positive practice.
  7. This inspection took place on 14 and 21–25 February 2022.
  8. Please contact Ed Owen at if you would like more information.