HMIP Reports, HMP Nottingham


The prison was given an inspection in February 2016, 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:

“HMP Nottingham is a local prison holding just over 1,000 adult and young adult male prisoners. It was constructed in the 19th century but was largely rebuilt between 2008 and 2010. It holds a range of prisoners, including those remanded by the courts, newly sentenced prisoners and prisoners nearing release. It also holds a significant number of men recalled to prison after breaching licence conditions, and a few with an indeterminate sentence.

At our last inspection in September 2014, we had serious concerns about many outcomes for prisoners. We were particularly concerned that levels of violence were far too high, and that this was having a destabilising impact across the establishment. As a result, this inspection was announced in advance to give prison leaders time before our arrival to focus on addressing our concerns.

At this inspection we found that the prison still faced many significant challenges. However, while much work still needed to be done, we saw managers and staff working very hard to address areas of concern, and tangible progress in all four of our healthy prison areas, although this was not sufficient in every case to change our assessments.

Some aspects of support for those arriving new into the prison had improved and induction was now much better, but delays in reception were still significant. Those prisoners who were vulnerable because of the nature of their offences and who were held on the induction wing had a poor experience. Some aspects of first night substance misuse work needed urgent attention.

There was still too much serious violence and disorder. This was despite real efforts that had been made to address this. A more strategic and proactive approach to the underlying causes, such as the prevalence of new psychoactive substances and associated debt had not yet had a significant impact. It was, therefore, not surprising that many prisoners still told us they felt unsafe. High levels of force were used and, while governance of this had improved, we were concerned that some serious allegations made about staff were not being taken seriously enough.

Levels of vulnerability, and in particular men with mental health problems, were higher than many similar prisons we have visited, and higher than at our last inspection. We found a number of men with complex combinations of vulnerability and problematic behaviour and, almost inevitably, some of these were being held in the segregation unit. This was an inappropriate place to hold such men. A specific area was needed where appropriate therapeutic care and support could be provided for the high number of men with acute mental health problems.

The significant efforts being made by the prison management to improve living conditions were not helped by shortages of essential items for daily living. Some of these were outside the prison’s control but prisoners still faced a number of frustrations which added to the challenge of keeping the prison calm and ordered. We found some excellent staff who worked positively with prisoners and were not afraid to challenge or reward behaviour as appropriate. However, too many wing based staff remained distant and somewhat dismissive of the men in their care. Equality work had started to refocus and some progress had been made in meeting the needs of protected groups, although much more was needed.

Real strides had been made in stabilising the regime, and the core day introduced in October 2015 was delivering a reasonable amount of time out of cell for most prisoners. Leadership of learning and skills had improved and attendance at activities was also better, but still needed improvement. Achieving these improvements would benefit men by aiding their rehabilitation, and would help to stabilise the prison further.

Leadership in resettlement had improved and real progress had been made in developing provision from the previous very low base. Offender management work was developing, if variable in quality, and public protection work was mostly robust. However, oversight arrangements needed to improve, for example in high risk of harm cases and categorisation. We were particularly concerned that some re-categorisation decisions were being wrongly made without appropriate risk assessments. Reintegration work was developing well and the new community rehabilitation company was making a positive contribution to this.

We were far more optimistic after this inspection than when we last inspected in 2014. The decline in standards had been arrested, the culture within the prison had improved, and there was a real sense that the leadership of the prison had a grip on what needed to be done. There was a refreshing sense of honesty and realism about the scale of the challenges that faced them. The plans that were in place to make the prison safer and more decent were credible. However, much of the very real progress that had been made was fragile, and a great deal of work was still needed to consolidate the position.

There is no doubt that this prison has suffered from a lack of continuity and consistency in its leadership. At the time of this inspection there had been five governors in the space of four years. The current governor has grasped some difficult issues and laid some good if inevitably fragile foundations. However, our understanding is that he too will shortly move to another prison. For the future, every effort should be made to stabilise the leadership of this challenging prison.


Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                    March 2016

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Nottingham

To read the full reports follow the links below to the Ministry of Justice website


  • HMP Nottingham (PDF, 827.37 kB), Report on an announced inspection of HMP Nottingham (1-5 February 2016)
  • HMP Nottingham, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Nottingham (8-19 September 2014)
  • HMP Nottingham,. Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Nottingham (25-27 February 2013)
  • HMP Nottingham, Announced inspection of HMP Nottingham (15 – 19 February 2010)
  • HMP Nottingham, Unannouced short follow-up inspection of HMP Nottingham (15-18 October 2007)