HMIP Inspections, Buckley Hall

The prison was given an inspection in summer 2106 and 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 Buckley Hall near Rochdale is a category C training prison for adult male prisoners serving sentences of four years or more, and as such has no designated resettlement function. Prisoners at Buckley Hall are normally held for extended periods,  with most staying for over two years and just under half in excess of four years. Prisoners are normally expected  to progress eventually to open conditions or to be resettled from  establishments closer to their home areas. This inspection took place four years after our previous inspection in 2012 and, despite some deterioration, as before we found a prison that continues to ensure reasonably good or better outcomes in most of the areas we inspect.

Prisoners had good access to time out of cell and the majority were involved in full-time work or learning. Senior managers were providing effective leadership and ensuring the development of learning and skills provision with good partnership working. Our colleagues from Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of learning and skills work to be good. The range and quality of education and vocational training were good, although some work shops needed to be busier. Teaching and learning were effective and learner achievement on most courses was high. Attendance at activities and behaviour management in activities were also generally good.

We found resettlement services to be reasonably good. The resettlement strategy was based on a current analysis of need, with offender management work well-integrated and focused on linking prisoners to activity and work. Offender supervision was intended to be at the heart of the prisoner experience and work was in place to mitigate the frustrations of too many prisoners arriving at Buckley Hall without an up-to-date  offender assessment system (OASys) assessment of risk. The quality of offender management and supervision we inspected was reasonably good, although too many sentence plans and risk management plans did need improvement. Public protection work was well-managed. Few prisoners were released directly from Buckley Hall so resettlement services were limited, although peer support was available for those who needed some intervention.

Buckley Hall was a generally safe prison. Prisoners were positive about their reception into the prison, despite some unwelcoming first night accommodation, and levels of violence were low.  Arrangements to support those at risk of self-harm were adequate but, despite this, levels of self-harm had increased since we last inspected. Procedural security was satisfactory but there was clear evidence to suggest illicit drug use was too high. Some successful work had been undertaken to try to reduce drug supply, but nearly two-thirds of prisoners told us it was easy to get drugs. Use of force had also increased significantly and we recommended a reduction in use of force as well as better scrutiny and accountability regarding its use.

Buckley Hall had experienced some clear deterioration in the area of respect. The prison was settled and the environment was reasonable, but some of the accommodation required refurbishment. Staff-prisoner relationships were usually respectful but not universally so, and we highlighted in our report a small but significant number of staff who were disengaged and undermining the otherwise positive ethos in the prison. The promotion of equality needed more energy and direction and prisoners had, with some justification, limited confidence in the way their general complaints were addressed. Overall, health care provision met need but the health care facility itself required modernisation. Of immediate concern were the potentially unsafe practices in the prescribing and administration of methadone. This issue was the subject of one of  our main recommendations as well as requirement notices from our partners during this inspection, the CQC.

This was a good and generally encouraging report. Buckley Hall was a settled institution which was clear about its role and purpose. Prisoners were mostly positive about their experiences and outcomes were good, notably in the prison’s core function of providing work, learning and skills. We have highlighted a number of issues that require attention, one of them urgently, but overall these are matters that can be addressed quickly and suggest Buckley Hall has the potential to be a high-performing establishment.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                                                           September 2016                         

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

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

Return to Buckley Hall