HMIP Inspections of Coldingley

The prison was given an inspection in January 2022, 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:

The prisoners at Coldingley, a category C training prison in Surrey, were spending up to seven hours a day unlocked; this was in contrast with other jails we had recently inspected, where prisoners were lucky if they got out of their cells for more than a couple of hours. Our visit came as the prison was recovering from a recent COVID-19 outbreak, but leaders had kept the regime open while successfully managing the risk for the 431 prisoners who were being held there.

Levels of violence at Coldingley were around average for the category C estate and the prison generally had a calm and friendly atmosphere. A consistent regime was presided over by a strong cadre of dedicated and skilled prison officers, though the oversight of support for prisoners at risk of suicide or self[1]harm needed improvement. At times it seemed to inspectors that the atmosphere was a little too laid back and there a tolerance of some low-level behaviour that should have been addressed. It was disappointing to see from our survey how readily drugs were available in the prison and there needed to be a concerted effort from leaders to reduce the supply.

Since I came into post in November 2020, I have rarely visited a jail about which prisoners spoke so positively. This was particularly impressive because the fabric of the prison in the older parts was poor, with cold, dark cells and shabby communal areas. A night sanitation system remained in place on A–D wings and waits to use the lavatories were so long that prisoners often had to revert to using a bucket in their cell and were unable to wash their hands. Inspectors were encouraged to hear that a much needed, extensive refurbishment plan was in place.

Considering the time prisoners were unlocked, it was disappointing that the provision of education was so poor, with Ofsted colleagues awarding it their lowest rating. This was a huge missed opportunity to get prisoners onto productive leaning pathways that would help them to resettle when released. There was also a lack of work opportunities available for prisoners, which meant that some did not have enough to do during the day and were not able to get used to normal working habits. Prisoners were not being sufficiently incentivised or challenged to go to work or attend education and during this inspection, we found too many either in their cells watching daytime television or socialising on the wings during working hours.

The effective and thoughtful governor knew his prison well and had well[1]developed plans in place to make improvements. As the disruption of the pandemic receded, he and his team had the opportunity to build on the excellent staff-prisoner relationships and to focus on making sure that all prisoners spend their time productively, either working or in education. There was also scope for building relationships with local employers, in a part of the country with a buoyant jobs market, to offer release on temporary licence for those prisoners who met the threshold. This would further prepare them for working life and incentivise good behaviour and attendance among the rest of the population.

Coldingley was a well-run and decent prison, but with renovation of the buildings, the development of a comprehensive, challenging work and education offer, and the reduction in the supply of drugs there was scope for further improvements. The governor and his team should be ambitious in aiming to make this prison a model for other category C establishments in the country.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
February 2022

Return to Coldingley

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

  • Inspection report (829 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Coldingley by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (6 and 10-14 January 2022)
  • HMP Coldingley (1.26 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Coldingley (20 February-3 March 2017)
  • HMP Coldingley, Unannounced inspection of HMP Coldingley (2 – 12 April 2013)
  • HMP Coldingley, Announced inspection of HMP Coldingley (7–11 June 2010)
  • HMP Coldingley, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Coldingley (8-10 September 2008)

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