HMIP Inspections of Coldingley

The prison was given an inspection in Spring 2013, the full report can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

Coldingley is a category C training prison on the outskirts of London, holding just over 500 adult male prisoners. The establishment has long had a reputation as an industrial prison providing a full regime of activity and industry. At previous inspections we have praised the institution. At this inspection the prison was just coming out of a competitive bid process and was also awaiting the appointment of a new governor. We found generally reasonable outcomes but identified some significant issues that required attention and improvement.

We found Coldingley to be a safe prison. Prisoners reported that they felt safe and in our survey most indicators of delinquent or violent behaviour were relatively positive. There was little self-harm, and prisoners in crisis were well cared for. Security was applied proportionately, and prisoners who needed support for drug and alcohol problems talked positively about this. Force was used infrequently and the use of segregation had reduced, although the facility and regime needed improvement.

Our principal criticisms at Coldingley focused on respect. Accommodation was in a poor condition, made worse by the continued use of the antiquated, inefficient and degrading ‘night san system’ – controlling prisoner access to toilets at night through a call queuing and computerised unlock arrangement. The outcome was that men had to wait extended periods to use toilets, and often used buckets instead.

The staff-prisoner relationships we observed were reasonable, but our survey and the comments of many prisoners suggested they could and should be improved. Some prisoners saw the staff as dismissive. These negative views were worse among minority groups, and diversity work in general was very poor. Health services were appreciated by prisoners and had improved since our last inspection. The quality of food was poor and the cleanliness of the kitchen was unacceptable.

The provision of education, work and activity was reasonably good, with some excellent workshops and high quality skills acquisition for some prisoners. Added to this, the provision of vocational training had improved and there was a clear vision for further development. That said, provision lacked cohesion and was not up to our high expectations of an industrial prison. It was particularly hard to understand why prisoners doing some highly skilled work were unable to obtain qualifications that could have helped them find work on release. This was a missed opportunity.

Attendance at education was often poor, teaching variable and individual planning weak. More needed to be done to develop resettlement work opportunities in the community.

Resettlement services generally were good. Offender management was well managed and most prisoners appeared to be engaged. There was a reasonable assessment of need and good use of prisoner peer supporters to assist resettlement, although there was no specialist support for some resettlement pathways. There was some use of release on temporary licence to support prisoners’ family ties, but the small category D unit seemed to lack any specific purpose.

There is a need for both local managers and NOMS to ensure that Coldingley becomes a more respectful institution and focuses on its primary purpose of equipping prisoners for a purposeful life on release. The provision and integration of work, training and resettlement is a clear priority, but despite having a good foundation to build on, Coldingley is still some way short of the standard of excellence to which it should aspire.


Nick Hardwick           June 2013

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Coldingley

To read the full reports, go to the Ministry of Justice site or follow the links below:

  • HMP Coldingley, Unannounced inspection of HMP Coldingley (2 – 12 April 2013)
  • HMP Coldingley, Announced inspection of HMP Coldingley (7–11 June 2010)
  • HMP Coldingley, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Coldingley (8-10 September 2008)