HMIP Inspection of Preston

The prison was given an inspection in March 2014, 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:

“Preston is a local prison in the true sense; it serves the local courts and holds remanded or recently convicted men prior to their move onto training prisons in the locality. The prison will be ideally placed to adopt to its proposed resettlement role in addition to continuing its current function, as new through-the-gate approaches to reducing re-offending and rehabilitation are rolled out over the coming years .

At recent inspections we have found Preston to be a relatively safe, respectful and purposeful place, and reported positively about the outcomes it had delivered. At this inspection we found the prison continued to ensure reasonably solid outcomes, although we discerned some deterioration against our tests in safety and respect.

Prisoners were received reasonably well into the prison and we found a confident use of peer support for prisoners available across the various services provided, but far too many reported feeling unsafe and victimised; significantly more than similar prisons and worse than our findings when we last inspected. High rates of drug availability, limited work to tackle drug supply and ineffective arrangements to address delinquent or anti-social behaviour were not helping, but it was also perhaps the case that some prisoners may have been reflecting staff discontent that was clearly apparent following recent restructuring processes that sought to address resource usage in the prison. Despite this unhelpful undercurrent, the reality was that violent incidents were no higher than we would expect to see in this type of prison.

Support for prisoners who self-harmed was helpful and prompt action had been taken to address concerns and recommendations following recent deaths in custody. It was positive to see so many assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT)case management reviews for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm having multi disciplinary input, although there remained a lack of continuity in case management.

Security was, with the exception of strip-searching arrangements, generally proportionate, and disciplinary procedures were well managed and used sparingly. Accountability concerning recording the use of force needed to improve, as did the quite poor segregation unit.

Substance misuse services had developed since the last inspection and the recovery unit was excellent, but aspects of the prison’s approach to stabilisation needed improvement including more one-to-one psychosocial support. There was also very good continuity of care in terms of linked community provision.

Accommodation was very mixed; some units were old and tired and cells were poor, and Preston remained an over-crowded prison. But the environment was generally well looked after and most areas were clean. Food was reasonable although there could be delays in prisoners receiving their first canteen order.

Prisoners were far less positive than we have found before about the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners, and in our survey just two thirds of prisoners felt respected. Many staff were afforded insufficient time to interact with prisons. We observed some examples where staff were dismissive and distant. In contrast, engagement seemed better amongst specialist staff..

The management of equality and diversity was getting better after a period of neglect, but outcomes for minority groups were still too inconsistent. Faith services were very good and well integrated into the prison. Management and quality assurance of complaints was poor but legal services were better than we often see.

Healthcare overall was safe and decent, although staffing shortages was causing some delays in prisoners accessing these services. Mental health services were very good overall as befitted a population with a high need for such support.

Time out of cell for the majority of prisoners was reasonable overall, although around a fifth were locked up during the working day. Leadership and management of learning and skills were good and appropriately focussed on reducing re-offending work. Learning outcomes for prisoners were generally very good. There were sufficient activity places for nearly all prisoners held, albeit on a part-time basis, and these were generally well targeted and appropriate. There were good plans to develop provision further. The library and gym both provided good support although use of both needed to be improved.

Strategic management of resettlement was better than we normally see, and well focussed on identified need. Community engagement was particularly well developed and reflected in the strong reducing reoffending pathway support offered. Offender management work was reasonable, although there were delays in some key assessment, and elements of public protection work needed tightening up. It was disappointing given the strong pathway support that work with families and the visits experience was unsatisfactory.

There was much that was good about what Preston had to offer prisoners with notably a good focus on purposeful activity and resettlement; the prison was stronger in these areas than many other local prisons we have recently visited. But disappointingly, we discerned complacency with insufficient attention to questions of safety and respect which was impacting on how prisoners perceived life at Preston. It was clear that managers needed to be stronger in challenging some of this complacency as well as the negativity of some operational staff, and in particular to persuade staff to re-engage with prisoners in their care.


Nick Hardwick                       August 2014

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Preston

To read the full report from the inspectors, follow the links below to the Ministry of Justice web site:

  • HMP Preston, Unannounced inspection of HMP Preston (31 March – 11 April 2014)
  • HMP Preston, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Preston (10 – 12 April 2012)
  • HMP Preston, Announced inspection of HMP Preston (10-14 August 2009)
  • HMP Preston, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Preston (23-25 January 2008)