The prison inspectors have made a follow up IRP to Channings Wood after their inspection in the autumn 2018. In the press release announcing of their report they said:
” HMP Channings Wood, a men’s prison in Devon, was found in an independent review of progress (IRP) to have successfully addressed many of the inconsistencies and weaknesses evident in a full inspection in 2018.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that at the inspection in September 2018, “we assessed outcomes for prisoners as not sufficiently good across all four of our healthy prison tests – the same assessment as at the previous inspection in 2016.
“We found that inconsistency of outcomes was a recurrent theme. This was best exemplified in varying standards being accepted across the different accommodation blocks, and in partial or uncoordinated implementation of initiatives designed to improve outcomes [for prisoners].” In 2018, Mr Clarke had concluded “that the enthusiasm and openness of managers at Channings Wood needed to be supplemented with active, visible leadership, ensuring that improvement was achieved and sustained.”
A largely positive IRP visit in July 2019 found that the prison and its leaders “had taken their cue very positively from our findings and recommendations, and within nine months had moved ahead in the great majority of the areas where we had identified weaknesses.
“In particular, our call for much greater coordination and consistency of standards had been heeded.” Reasonable or good progress had been made in carrying out 11 of the 13 key recommendations in 2018.
On two recommendations, inspectors judged there had been insufficient progress. However, Mr Clarke said that one of those – relating to the resourcing and timing of mandatory drugs tests of prisoners – had to be set against the prison’s overall improved effectiveness in tackling the supply of illegal drugs into the prison.
There was also insufficient progress in dealing with the poor physical condition of some of the living units but improvement in this area depended to a large extent on budgetary issues, “where other priorities had proved pressing on security grounds.”
Among positive IRP findings, the level of violence against staff had decreased, and in other areas of safety the figures relating to violence did not show any increasing trends. There were also some signs that use of new psychoactive substances, and of drugs in general, were on the decrease. Vulnerable prisoners said that they were now safer on their induction unit.
Inspectors found that leadership and governance in health and social care had improved, a more satisfactory complaints system had been established and there had been some recent improvements in equality work. Ofsted inspectors found some improvements in education, skills and work.
Work to reduce reoffending had already become more consistent, with layers of assurance added to ensure that public protection responsibilities were carried out thoroughly, especially for high-risk prisoners approaching release, Mr Clarke added.
Overall, Mr Clarke said:
“At this IRP, we found strong leadership beginning to bear fruit in real improvements to almost all of the areas which we followed up from our recent inspection. There was a clear sense of coordination and of direction; this was attested to not just by managers, but also by staff, and by some prisoners as well. Most staff whom we met or observed, including many in their first year of service, were engaged, appreciative of the new management approaches and well-motivated in their work.”
To read the full report click below
HMP Channings Wood IRP (400.47 kB), Report on an independent review of progress at HMP Channings Wood (1-3 July 2019)