HMYOI Brinsford, HMIP Inspections

The prison was given a full inspection in August 2021. In their report the inspectors said:

 Brinsford is a category C prison holding 466 mostly young men who are on remand or sentenced to less than four years imprisonment.

The attractive gardens (largely closed to prisoners) and the large open site belied a prison that faced some serious challenges in providing adequate care, education, training and rehabilitation and creating an environment that was safe and supportive to an often-troubled group of prisoners.

Much of the accommodation was in poor condition with many prisoners living in shabby cells, of which some had inadequate furniture and graffiti on the walls. The showers needed refurbishment and the communal areas were tatty and uninspiring. Even parts of the prison that had been recently redecorated had begun to deteriorate. Officers tended to congregate in offices away from the wings, meaning prisoners were often left unsupervised. Inspectors saw poor behaviour going unchallenged by staff whose low morale seemed to have affected their motivation. The newly introduced incentives scheme was not being used to monitor or improve prisoners’ behaviour, because it had not been communicated effectively to staff and prisoners and was therefore not properly understood.

Progress to open the regime after COVID-19 restrictions had been slow and it was depressing to find so many young men whiling away their time sleeping or watching daytime television. Leaders were not monitoring the regime adequately and were unaware that prisoners who were not working or in education were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, despite a planned increase in the amount of time out of cell. Face-to-face education was only provided to a few prisoners each day and opportunities for work were limited. One of the two education blocks was still closed and use of the library was very restricted. The gym provided irregular access for prisoners and this was cancelled when, particularly at weekends, staff members were cross deployed to other work. There was some exercise equipment outside, but yards were small and there was limited use of the extensive grounds that could have provided opportunities for outdoor activity for this largely young and energetic group of prisoners.

The well-led and effective offender management unit was supported by the governor who had avoided cross-deployment of staff away from important sentence progression and release work. Enthusiastic staff had reopened the refurbished visits hall and visitors who had tested negative for COVID-19 were now able to hug prisoners.

Though violence had reduced since our last inspection, levels of assaults between prisoners were higher than at any of the comparator prisons. The inclusion of parents and other family members in supporting challenging or vulnerable prisoners was an impressive innovation. Use of force had also reduced but more needed to be done to make sure prison officers turned on their body-worn cameras when there was an incident.

The governor had rightly set ’back to basics’ as a priority for the prison, but plans were vague and had not been adequately communicated to staff and prisoners. This was a prison that required some real management grip; to make improvements, leaders must be clear about their expectations, set up effective systems for monitoring progress and be a visible presence on the wings, checking daily that that standards are being maintained.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
September 2021

To read the full report follow the links to the Ministry of Justice web site below

Return to Brinsford

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