HMIP Inspections of Lancaster Farms

The prison was given an inspection in the summer of 2015, 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:

“We last inspected HMP Lancaster Farms in June 2011, just prior to its re-role from a local prison holding remanded and sentenced young adults to a training prison for the same age group. At our last inspection, we found an improved prison which we felt was well equipped for its new role but where resettlement work needed to improve. At this inspection Lancaster Farms had again been rerolled, and for the few months prior to the inspection had been operating as an adult training prison with a resettlement function. We found that some areas of work were still in transition while others had built on the strengths that we had previously reported.

Lancaster Farms remained a basically safe and respectful prison. Support on arrival and through the early days at the prison was good, although some aspects of induction needed to be better. Most prisoners felt safe and despite challenges with new psychoactive substances (NPS) and some underdeveloped violence reduction processes, levels of violence were not excessive. Management of prisoners who had got into debt or felt threatened by others needed closer attention to ensure they were located in the right area of the prison. The last self-inflicted death had been in 2014 and action to address the issues raised by this was well advanced. We found support for those vulnerable to self-harm was good, with particularly strong work by the mental health and chaplaincy teams.

Security arrangements were generally proportionate although some aspects of movement around the prison still needed to be adapted for the new population. Many prisoners reported that NPS were readily available, but we were reassured that robust management action was being taken to address the challenges this presented. Use of adjudications and segregation were both high and the reasons for this needed to be better understood. The segregation environment was reasonable and relationships between staff and prisoners were strong, but aspects of the regime were limited and the exercise yards were grim cages. Use of force was not high and de-escalation was the norm when it was needed. Substance misuse support was improving.

Living conditions were generally good, outside areas were pleasant and the prison as a whole benefited from an open and relaxed outlook. Despite this, some internal areas were grubby – we found pockets of graffiti and the doubled cells were particularly cramped. The food provided was better than we usually see and prisoners were positive in our survey, despite meals being served too early.

Prisoners were very positive about the approach adopted by most staff, and the personal officer scheme was working well. In contrast, some aspects of equalities and diversity work had been neglected and monitoring to ensure equitable outcomes for the protected groups was not taking place. The needs of some disabled prisoners were not being met and work with foreign nationals was poor. Nevertheless, prisoners from a black and minority ethnic background and Muslim men were far more positive about safety and respectful treatment than we normally see, which may have been explained by the generally positive relationships evident. Work by the chaplaincy team was very strong – they were visible around the prison and prisoners were extremely positive about the support they provided. Despite some delays in seeing health care professionals, services were generally reasonable and meeting needs.

In contrast to the relatively strong picture we saw in safety and respect, outcomes in purposeful activity and resettlement were insufficient, and suffering to some extent from arrangements not keeping pace with the new population held. There were too few relevant work places, and not all the available activity places were being utilised. It was therefore not surprising, but still disappointing, to see that in a resettlement prison around 40% of prisoners were locked up during the working day. There were some good plans to increase the amount of work and vocational training offered, which were the priorities for the new population, but these had yet to be realised. In contrast, for those in activities, standards of work and achievements were generally good.

As at the last inspection, resettlement remained a disappointing picture overall. Offender management arrangements were in transition and not yet meeting the needs of prisoners; too many assessments and other key processes were not being completed to an adequate standard, or in a timely way; and contact between prisoners and their offender supervisors was too infrequent. Some good offending behaviour programmes were run, but there were gaps in what was offered. Public protection arrangements were seriously flawed and needed urgent attention to provide adequate safeguards. During the inspection the prison had moved to the new community rehabilitation company (CRC) resettlement arrangements, and the continuity in the various providers involved to maintain pre-release and through-the-gate support should ease the transition. Reintegration work was generally good, as was most support in the various resettlement pathways, but support for promoting and maintaining relationships with children and families could have been more creative.

Overall, we felt that good progress had been made in providing a safe and decent prison for the new population held, but that ongoing management attention was needed to address weakness in the amount and range of work offered, and in the support provided around the critical areas of offender management and public protection. It was reassuring that senior managers had recognised most of these weaknesses and had credible plans to address the shortfalls.

Nick Hardwick           September 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Lancaster Farms

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