HMP Long Lartin, Inspections

The prison was inspected in Autumn 2014 and the full report can be read by following the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

“Located near Evesham in Worcestershire, HMP Long Lartin is a high security prison holding some of the most serious offenders in the country. At this inspection the prison was holding just over 600 men, nearly all of whom were serving very long sentences, with two-thirds serving life sentences. It is probable that a small minority of these prisoners will never be released. The throughput of prisoners in the establishment, about three-quarters of whom were over the age of 30, was low, ensuring a stable and largely settled population. However, the risks presented by the population was evidenced by the fact that virtually all were at least category B and at the time of the inspection 129 prisoners required full category A status.

We last inspected Long Lartin in 2011 and reported on a prison that was ensuring reasonably good outcomes across all of our healthy prison tests. The findings of this inspection were very similar. There had been some deterioration in the provision of purposeful activity, but to an extent, this was balanced by improvements we observed in the provision of resettlement services.

Overall the prison was reasonably safe and respectful. Though nearly one-third of prisoners suggested they felt unsafe on their first night in the prison, arrangements to receive new prisoners were adequate, despite uncoordinated and sometimes unfocused induction activities. Some effective and improved arrangements were in place to evaluate risk and reduce the likelihood of violence. CCTV coverage and staff engagement ensured prisoners were well supervised and the number of violent incidents recorded was comparatively low. However, some of the incidents were very serious, not least a murder that took place in 2013, emphasising again the risks that the prison had to manage.

Self-harm incidents were similarly low, but since our last inspection seven prisoners had died, two from self-inflicted deaths. Support for those in crisis was mixed and despite some recent improvement, the case management and care for those in crisis needed to be better. This was particularly true for those at risk and also held in health care or the segregation unit.

Physical and procedural security at Long Lartin was necessarily extensive and sophisticated but we found that it was applied in a generally proportionate manner that facilitated prisoners’ access to services and the regime. The use of formal disciplinary procedures had reduced markedly in recent years and the incentives and earned privileges arrangements seemed to be fair. Commendably, force was used less frequently than at similar prisons, but some improvements needed to be made to record keeping and arrangements that demonstrated accountability. The large segregation unit remained fairly full, although lengths of stay were reducing. The regime in segregation was improving, as was the quality of staff engagement with prisoners in segregation.

The quality of accommodation remained very varied and the older wings retained the ‘night san’ remote unlocking system that allowed access to sanitation. As we have reported before, this system led to some poor and degrading outcomes for prisoners. However, all prisoners had their own cell and much of the newer accommodation was very good. The majority of prisoners felt respected by staff and these good relationships were supported by an effective personal officer scheme and some useful consultation arrangements. The promotion of equality and diversity was similarly good but more could have been done for older prisoners and those with mobility issues. The quality of, and access to, health services were reasonably good and our survey indicated this was appreciated by prisoners. The exception was the prison’s 10 bed inpatient unit where the prisoner’s therapeutic needs were not met.

Prisoners had satisfactory access to time out of cell and most prisoners were engaged in activity, but the overall effectiveness of learning and skills provision was inadequate. Improvements were being implemented but it was too early to assess their effectiveness. The narrowness of provision meant the education provider had only claimed 42% of the funding for which it was contracted and eligible.

There were some useful vocational opportunities but achievements in education, especially English and mathematics, were not good enough. Classes were orderly but too much teaching required improvement. Some workshops provided good employment experiences for prisoners but the work was often mundane and repetitive with limited opportunities for learning. Both the library and the gym ensured some good outcomes for prisoners.

An up-to-date reducing reoffending policy, supported by a comprehensive analysis of need, was in place. Offender management arrangements worked well with most assessments and sentence plans completed to a good standard and in a timely manner. The exception was assessments undertaken by community offender managers which were often late. Sentence plans had an appropriate focus on risk factors and complemented sound public protection work. Most of the prison’s resettlement work was good and tailored to the needs of the very few prisoners who were discharged from Long Lartin each year. Work to support family ties, however, was poor and needed to improve, as did the way visitors were treated when they came to the prison.

Long Lartin manages some significant risks but does so with confidence. The prison is calm and controlled and although there is more to do, improvement is evident and the prison is both competent and effective. We have made a small number of recommendations which we believe will assist further improvement. 

Nick Hardwick                       March 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

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To read the full inspectors reports follow the links below:

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