The newly merged prison was given its first inspection during summer 2015. In his report the inspector said:
HMP Humber is a large category C resettlement prison near Hull, formed by the merger of HMPs Wolds and Everthorpe. At the time of this inspection, the prison held 1,002 adult men. The prison is operated by the public sector following market testing. Wolds, which had previously been run by G4S, moved to the public sector in April 2013, and the formal merger of the two prisons took place in April 2014. A secure corridor, which creates a physical link between the two sites, was opened in April 2015. This is our first inspection of HMP Humber.
Market testing and the merger had been a protracted process which was described by some staff as a ‘collision’ rather than a coming together of the two prisons. The opening of the secure corridor had been significantly delayed, and during this period of uncertainty many aspects of the running of the two sites had deteriorated. Cultural differences between the two establishments were still evident during the inspection, as were some divisions among the staff group. Pay differentials remained and there was dissatisfaction with the management of the merger. The merger had delayed the introduction of changes to staffing structures and the core day, which were now established in most other prisons but were still causing concern in HMP Humber.
Relationships between staff and prisoners were good at both sites but better at the old Wolds site, where 92% of prisoners said staff treated them with respect, compared with 81% at the Everthorpe site. Conversely, only 27% of prisoners said they had ever felt unsafe on the Everthorpe site, compared with 36% on the Wolds site. Overall outcomes had deteriorated during the merger. The new governor and his senior management team had started to recover lost ground but the prison was still failing to provide good enough outcomes for prisoners in three of our four healthy prison tests.
The prison was not sufficiently safe and many procedures designed to underpin prisoners’ safety were underdeveloped or very recent. Incidents of poor behaviour by prisoners were common, and some of these were serious. Some poor behaviour went unchallenged by staff and the number of assaults on staff was high. The availability and use of illegal drugs were too high, and there were major challenges with the use of new psychoactive substances. Responses to these challenges were not well coordinated and a more cohesive approach was being developed. The management of disciplinary procedures needed improvement. Too many incidents could have been dealt with by the incentives and earned privileges scheme rather than adjudications. The use of force was too high: we were concerned about some incidents we reviewed and its oversight needed urgent attention. The number of prisoners segregated was not high but the regime in the segregation unit was poor, and some prisoners who felt threatened were self-isolating on the wings with little attention to their needs. Despite this, in our survey fewer prisoners than the comparator said they had felt unsafe, which we felt reflected the strong and supportive relationships between staff and prisoners.
Early days work was good and efforts to improve support for prisoners on assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) case management for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm were starting to have a real impact on the quality of care provided. Nevertheless, a more coordinated approach was required to manage prisoners with complex needs. A new substance misuse provider had taken over in recent weeks and was starting to develop a good range of support for prisoners, although at the time of the inspection some of it was not in place and this had a negative impact on outcomes.
The majority of prisoners told us that staff treated them with respect and that they had someone to help them with a problem. This provided an excellent base on which to improve outcomes for prisoners across all our healthy prison tests. Living conditions were reasonable, although cleanliness could have been improved and some single cells used to hold two prisoners were unacceptably small.
The applications process was not working. Prisoners were generally negative about the food but many told us that it had improved recently, and we found it to be adequate. Some basic canteen items were in short supply which caused prisoners considerable frustration.
Equality and diversity work had collapsed and the governor had recently put a structure in place to address the needs of the protected characteristics groups. Support for all groups was underdeveloped. No monitoring of outcomes had taken place for some time and we could not be confident that outcomes were equitable. Faith provision was good. The management of complaints had been weak but had improved recently. The health care provider had very recently taken over and, despite some teething problems, was already delivering good support to prisoners.
Time out of cell was good and there was very little slippage in the regime. The recently introduced free flow process was working effectively, although some staff and prisoners were finding the transition from a more restricted regime challenging. There was a shortfall of about 15% in the availability of activity places. Not even all the available places were fully used and about a quarter of prisoners were completely unemployed and were usually on the wings with little to do. This added to the instability of the prison. The range of learning and skills provision was good, but attendance and punctuality were poor and achievements in some areas of basic skills needed improvement. The allocation of activities was not equitable. Good opportunities were provided by the library and gym.
Resettlement provision varied. A needs analysis of the new prison and its population had not yet been carried out. The community rehabilitation company arrangements for resettlement services provided by Purple Futures were still bedding in, and it was unclear what support could be delivered. Arrangements for release on temporary licence were robust and a few prisoners were working in the community and developing family links. The quality of offender management work varied; some assessments were overdue and too much casework required improvement. There was irregular contact between offender supervisors and prisoners. Reintegration planning was good, as was the support provided in most of the resettlement pathways.
Overall, Humber was a prison undergoing major change. The merger had been traumatic and prolonged, and the introduction of new providers in health, substance misuse and resettlement added considerably to an already complex picture. Change on so many fronts was a significant factor in many of the poor outcomes we have reported. However, the good relationships between staff and prisoners provided a solid foundation on which to build. The work the new governor had started was having a positive impact on outcomes for prisoners, but it was too early to see the benefit of many very recent initiatives. We had some confidence that progress would continue to be made but the challenges were significant and the prison would need significant support from the Prison Service if outcomes were to improve.
Nick Hardwick September 2015
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:
- HMP Humber (PDF, 808.76 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Humber (13 – 24 July 2015)
- HMP Everthorpe Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Everthorpe (19 – 21 March 2012)
- HMP Everthorpe Full announced inspection of HMP Everthorpe (12-16 January 2009
- HMP Wolds Announced full follow-up inspection of HMP Wolds (23 – 27 April 2012)
- HMP Wolds Announced inspection of HMP Wolds (7-11 December 2009)
- HMP Wolds Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Wolds (17-19 September 2007)