HMIP Inspections of Kirkham

The prison was given an inspection in late 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:

“Kirkham is a large category D open prison near Preston in Lancashire. The prison holds up to 630 adult men, virtually all serving fairly long sentences. Nearly a quarter are either life sentence prisoners or subject to indeterminate sentences for public protection. Previously we have described Kirkham as an impressive institution with a balanced approach to risk management and an appropriate focus on resettlement. This inspection found that the prison still reflects that description and that progress had been sustained.

Kirkham was a safe place. The prison had a mature population profile with about 70% of prisoners over the age of 30. That said, many in the past had been capable of serious offending, and the prison still had to manage appreciable risk. On the whole, this was done with proportionality and confidence. There were few incidents of violence or self-harm, and systems to promote safety were good. Temporary release failures were comparatively few and the number of absconds had not increased since our last inspection. Prisoners were only returned to closed conditions as a last resort and there was useful work done to follow up those who had. The prison delivered some good drug intervention work, although use of illicit drugs was higher than we usually see in open prisons. The number of prisoners subject to segregation had increased significantly and the facility was bleak. Managerial supervision also required improvement but stays in segregation were short.

The general environment was well maintained and the mainly billet-style accommodation was clean. Access to some services, such as the laundry, could have been improved. Relationships between staff and prisoners were respectful but over a quarter of prisoners indicated to us that they felt victimised by staff. The reasons for this were unclear and needed more investigation by managers. Contributory factors seem to have been the disproportionate influence of a few staff with a poor attitude, and an erroneous belief on the part of prisoners that they could be returned to closed conditions for minor infringements or if they made a complaint.

Equality and diversity were reasonably well promoted and outcomes for minority groups appeared equitable. However, strategic management was underdeveloped and management information that could have helped to assure managers of good outcomes was limited. There was evidence that discrimination was challenged when it was identified and there was some good support for older prisoners and those with disabilities and care needs. Work in support of adult safeguarding was beginning to develop, although not yet in conjunction with local authority services.

Prisoners were not locked up and had excellent access to facilities and services. The prison had a very good regime with purposeful activity available to all. Provision in work, vocational training and education was well planned and had a focus on employability. Teaching and assessment were good and achievements by learners reasonable. More could have been done to promote self-employment and support higher level qualifications, and achievement in functional skills needed to improve.The quality of, and access to, the library and the gym were good.

Resettlement outcomes in the prison were reasonably good despite a quite disjointed approach and some inconsistent supervisory structures. There was a focus on risk management and prisoners their offending behaviour needs were being addressed.Indeterminate sentence prisoners generally felt that they were able to make progress. Our own assessment was that there remained some gaps in fully addressing offending behaviour and formal offender management, although useful, was still not absolutely central to guiding the resettlement process. Release on temporary licence was used extensively and successfully to prepare prisoners for a safer eventual release, although there were shortcomings and gaps in the assessment process that needed to be tightened up. Services to support resettlement were generally achieving good outcomes

Kirkham is a very effective and impressive prison. Across the range of our healthy prison tests we found outcomes to be reasonably good or better, and the prison was successfully addressing some complex needs. Although some structures required attention, staff and managers exhibited a confidence, competence and sense of purpose that was equipping prisoners well through their transition from imprisonment to resettlement.

Nick Hardwick           March 2014

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Kirkham

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

  • HMP Kirkham, Unannounced inspection of HMP Kirkham (28 October – 8 November 2013)
  • HMP Kirkham, Announced inspection of HMP Kirkham (30 November-4 December 2009)
  • HMP Kirkham, Unannouced short follow-up inspection of HMP Kirkham (8-10 October 2007)