HMIP Inspections of Hindley

The prison was given an inspection in summer 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 Hindley is a category C male prison holding adults sentenced to up to four years and young adults aged 18–21 serving sentences of over 12 months and up to four years. When we last inspected, in 2014, Hindley was a young offender institution (YOI); it was re-roled to a men’s prison in April 2015. At the time of this inspection it held 515 prisoners. This is a very poor inspection report, but could easily have been even worse. If it were not for some positive things that were happening, mainly in the non-residential parts of the prison, and energetic leadership being given by the new governor, it would have been hard to justify not awarding the lowest possible grades in all four of our healthy prison tests. We have taken account of some of the positive initiatives at Hindley. However, the failings at the prison are so serious as to demand a highly critical report.

The regime at Hindley was one of the worst, and possibly the very worst, that inspectors had ever seen in this type of prison. The length of time for which young adults and adults alike were locked up was, in our considered view, unnecessary, unjustifiable and counterproductive. Almost every aspect of prison life for the prisoners was adversely affected by the regime. Prisoners were not getting to education and training in anything like the numbers that they should. On one day during the inspection a mere 14% of eligible prisoners were able to attend education. As a result they were being denied opportunities to embark on a path of rehabilitation and eventual resettlement. The fact that the outcomes were good when prisoners did manage to get to education showed that an opportunity was being wasted.

The frustration felt by prisoners was palpable, and this was hardly surprising. Many were locked up all day. They received a hot meal at around 4pm, and at the same time were given an inadequate breakfast pack that was supposed to see them through until lunchtime the next day. We were told that some could make toast in the evenings, but that a suggestion to put microwaves on the wings had been opposed by the staff association. This was symptomatic of what seemed to have gone wrong at Hindley. There were undoubtedly some good plans to improve things. However, at the time of this inspection, good intentions were not being translated into action on the wings. There was a clear disconnect between management intentions and actual service delivery

The levels of violence in Hindley, often fuelled by  the destructive effects of drugs – particularly new psychoactive substances (NPS) – were not likely to be controlled or minimised by the regime that was currently in place. If anything, it would exacerbate these problems. Locking prisoners up for wholly unreasonable lengths of time had not altered the fact that 49% of prisoners told us it was easy to get hold of illegal drugs, while 16% had developed a drug problem since entering the prison. According to our survey it was far easier to get hold of drugs in Hindley than it was to get clean clothes, sheets or books from the library.

Some buildings at Hindley carried the bold slogan ‘Enable, Empower, Challenge’. Unfortunately, the situation in the prison was actually disabling and disempowering the aspirations of prisoners and many staff alike.

To make progress, there needs to be a very clear recognition of what is good at Hindley, and also of where there needs to be fundamental change. Many examples of good practice could be found in the chaplaincy, education and health care. The same could not be said about the residential areas. There needs to be an honest appraisal of the culture that predominates among some staff in these areas. Inspectors were disappointed to be told things by some members of staff that were at variance with the very clear evidence before us. The governor needs to be supported by his senior team in the delivery of clear, proactive and intrusive leadership . Those who choose to stand in the way of change should have their ability to do so diminished.

There is no reason why Hindley should not become  a safe, decent and respectful prison. There is also no good reason why standards should be lower than at similar prisons. I would urge readers to look at the detail of this report to understand the scale of the challenge that faces the leadership of HMP Hindley. The recommendations are intended to  address some serious issues, and they demand a serious response. 

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                                                         September 2016                                                                          

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Hindley

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

  • HMP Hindley (508.96 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Hindley (4-15 July 2016)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (3 – 14 March 2014)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (13 November 2012)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (19-23 November 2012)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (1-2 August 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMYOI Hindley (6-8 September 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (24-25 January 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley
  • Announced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (19-23 October 2009)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (21-22 September 2009)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Pre-opening inspection of HMYOI Hindley (3-5 March 2009)