The HM Inspectorate of Prisons is the publicly funded organisation responsible for checking and monitoring how well, or badly, prisons and other similar institutions are performing. It is independent of the MoJ, and often very critical of the Prison Service, but it does provide a balanced view of conditions in prison and the treatment of prisoners as well as raising questions regarding future policy. It is not led by “party politics”. Each year the chief inspector produces an annual report; a lengthy document summarising what progress or failings have occurred over the previous 12 months, and setting out targets for the future.
In the year 2017–18 prison inspectors documented some of the most disturbing jail conditions they had ever seen, according to Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Launching his third annual report, Mr Clarke said these conditions had no place in the prison system in an advanced nation in the 21st century. “Violence, drugs, suicide and self‑harm, squalor and poor access to education are again prominent themes.”
However, 2017–18 was also a year in which the Inspectorate agreed with the government an important new protocol for demanding, publicly, urgent action from the government in prisons, young offender institutions and secure training centres where the outcomes for those held, particularly in terms of safety, are exceptionally poor. This Urgent Notification was invoked in the year in relation to HMP Nottingham.
Along with this, Mr Clarke welcomed a government decision to fund the Inspectorate to do follow-up work in a small number of troubling cases – potentially “one of the most significant developments for the independent scrutiny of prisons in recent years.”
To read the full report click here, Annual Report 2017-18
Every 2-3 years it visits all the prisons, the inspections are done by specialist teams and take 2-3 weeks. A report is then published on each prison and these individual reports can be found on the prisons home page ( go to a specific prison and you will find a tab called HMIP Report or Inspections).
In addition to these they publish special reports addressing areas of special interest, such as the recently published report on ROTLs