HMIP Inspection of HMP Bure

The prison was subjected to a unannounced inspection in Aril 2013. In their report the inspectors said:

This is the second inspection of Bure, which opened in late 2009. Specialising in the detention and treatment of sex offenders and located in rural Norfolk, it is a category C training prison holding just over 500 prisoners. When we last visited we praised what had been a very smooth and effective opening phase. This inspection again found an institution where outcomes were reasonably good or better in three of our healthy prison tests, but had deteriorated in purposeful activity.

Bure is unquestionably a safe prison. All indicators point to this fact and in our survey the perceptions of prisoners were reassuring. Prisoners were received well into the prison, and levels of violence were low. There was some evidence of low level victimisation, and security arrangements lacked some proportionality, but use of force was rarely needed and segregation used sparingly. Levels of self-harm were similarly low, and care for those who did experience a self-harm crisis was good.

Living conditions were generally good, although individual accommodation was small. The prison was clean and prisoners were able to maintain decent levels of hygiene. Relationships were generally respectful and most prisoners had someone on the staff they could approach for help if needed.

Work to promote diversity was generally effective, but despite this the significant black and minority ethnic population expressed more negative perceptions in our survey across a range of issues. The prison had already done some good work to investigate these concerns but needed to redouble efforts to understand these negative views.

Outcomes in health care were reasonable, but the arrangements for ordering and collection of medications were a concern. Some prisoners waited for days before getting their medications, often being turned away without treatment for what were sometimes serious conditions.

Purposeful activity was the weakest area overall and in need of improvement. Time out of cell was reasonable, and association and outside exercise were rarely cancelled or curtailed. However, the leadership and management of learning and skills needed to be improved. Standards were not being improved, and too much teaching and learning was just adequate. This affected, in particular, the less able or less motivated prisoners. There were insufficient activity places for the population and too many prisoners had not enough to do with their time. Nevertheless, there was good use of the places that were available and some positive outcomes were achieved. There was an appropriate focus on prisoners’ future employability, but limited life skills support for a population that needed it.

 Resettlement work continued to be strong, although the strategy required an update in line with a recently completed needs analysis. Offender management and resettlement work was properly integrated and case management seemed reasonable, but there was a large backlog of offender assessments that, importantly, addressed risk. Much better oversight and case supervision was also needed for the offender supervisors (officers) who were managing many high risk-of -harm sex offender cases. Public protection arrangements, reassuringly, were very good. Most support for resettlement was also good, aided by an excellent resettlement drop-in centre. The limited number of offending behaviour programmes meant delays for some prisoners in addressing sentence planning targets, but there had been some good early work with prisoners in denial of their offending behaviour.

Bure benefits from having a clear purpose, holding and treating sex offenders. As a group these prisoners are generally cooperative and easier to manage in a custodial context. The main challenge the prison faces is in ensuring its treatment of these men helps reduce risk as many prepare for release. Much of what has been achieved at Bure in its early years of operation is very good. However, prisoners need to be occupied more fully, and incremental improvements are required to ensure offender management is operating to the highest standards.


Nick Hardwick June 2013

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Bure


The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:


  • HMP Bure, Unannounced inspection of HMP Bure (29 April–10 May 2013)
  • HMP Bure, Announced inspection of HMP Bure (13–17 September 2010