HMIP Inspection of Wymott

The prison was given an inspection in  autumn 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 Wymott, located in central Lancashire, is a category C training prison for adult male prisoners and a small number of young adults. Spread over  a large site, it holds over 1,100 prisoners, approximately half of whom are on  discrete wings for vulnerable prisoners who had been convicted of sex offences. Since our last inspection in summer 2014 the population had changed somewhat, with nearly all prisoners now serving sentences of more than four years and up to life. In general, we have in the past reported positively about Wymott.

We concluded that Wymott remained a reasonably safe prison, although during the summer months prior to this inspection the prison had experienced a significant spike in violent incidents. The likely explanation for this concerned gang-related issues linked to the supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS), drugs that are developed or chosen to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin or amphetamines and may have unpredictable and life-threatening effects. The prison had identified the key prisoners involved in the supply and use of these substances and taken prompt and robust action to address the problem before it got out of control. As a result, we saw that levels of violence had started to reduce towards the previous relatively low levels. Nevertheless, men in our survey were more likely to report feeling unsafe than at the previous inspection and compared with similar prisons, and continued vigilance was needed to ensure the downward trend in violence continued and that the situation fully stabilised. Related to this were some prisoners who had either sought segregation for their own protection or who were isolating themselves on the wings. While managers knew who these men were, the regime offered to those on the wings was particularly poor and needed immediate attention.

Staff-prisoner relationships were generally respectful and prisoner  consultation was now excellent and meaningful. Prison managers focused well on ensuring the prison was decent and on improving the environment. Outside areas were  particularly good and there was a real focus on cleanliness and making the most of what were very mixed wings. Some innovative initiatives had been developed for ensuring cells were properly equipped.

The number of men with disabilities had increased, and the ageing population included some with very restricted mobility. Adapted living accommodation for these men was very limited and needed to be improved. The food provided was relatively good and real strides had been made since the previous inspection in equality and diversity work.

Health care provision, in contrast, was weak and in some areas potentially unsafe. The service was going through a retendering process which had caused uncertainty and was having a destabilising effect. Clinical governance and cleanliness were insufficient, and despite there being some committed staff, the care of men with chronic health problems was not good enough. There were a number of serious shortcomings in medicines management. Although those with acute or urgent problems received good care, overall we considered the service had some substantial failings.

Learning and skills provision had improved further, and outcomes were either good or outstanding in all the areas Ofsted inspected. This was a significant achievement and an obvious product of clear leadership and a plan to provide good-quality activities which supported efforts to rehabilitate the men. Nevertheless, staffing shortages had resulted in a restricted core day and we found too many men locked in their cells during the working day, rather than participating in the good range of purposeful activities offered.

Resettlement provision was also generally strong . Offender management arrangements overall had improved since the last inspection, although levels  of contact between offender supervisors and men on their caseloads needed to be improved. Some  excellent offending behaviour work was carried out, including with men who were in denial of their offence, and the psychologically informed planned environment (PIPE) unit for those with complex offending behaviour, which had opened since the last inspection, was a positive addition. The substance misuse therapeutic community (TC) remained an excellent facility and work to support contact between prisoners and their families was good compared with other male prisons. Despite some weaknesses in reintegration work for men being released directly from Wymott, the overall picture in resettlement was good.

Wymott was weathering similar pressures and challenges to other prisons, but was doing so with a proactive ‘can do’ approach, with an emphasis on finding solutions to problems and maintaining reasonably good outcomes for prisoners. This was underpinned by strong leadership that prioritised decency and provided men with opportunities to address their risks and work towards a successful rehabilitation. We commend the work being done  and support the leadership team’s efforts to improve further the outcomes being achieved.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                                     December  2016                                                                          

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Wymott

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

  • HMP Wymott (590.30 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Wymott (10-21 October 2016)
  • HMP Wymott, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Wymott (23 June – 4 July 2014)
  • HMP Wymott, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Wymott (15 – 17 November 2011)
  • HMP Wymott, Announced inspection of HMP Wymott (20-24 October 2008)
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