HMIP Reports, HMP Exeter

The prison was given an inspection in the March 2021, 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 Exeter is a category B local and resettlement prison which holds prisoners remanded or sentenced by the courts in south west England and those resettling in the region. At the time of this visit, about 430 prisoners were held in the prison.

The last full inspection of Exeter took place in May 2018. On that occasion outcomes for prisoners were so poor in the area of safety that we issued an Urgent Notification to the Secretary of State for Justice. At our subsequent Independent Review of Progress in 2019 we found, despite some progress, that improvement against the majority of key recommendations was ‘too little too late’. Since then, further progress has been hampered by high turnover of staff at all levels. At this visit, some key leadership posts had just been filled and one-third of frontline staff had been in post for less than a year.

The governor had a clear vision for the establishment, which was focused on improving staff culture, but significant progress was still needed in order to create a safer, more decent and secure establishment. We found that relationships between prisoners and staff were not good enough and many prisoners were frustrated at the difficulties they faced, for example, when making reasonable requests. In particular, prisoners from a black or minority ethnic background had very poor perceptions of staff.

Notwithstanding these concerns, during the pandemic violence had reduced and use of force was reasonably well managed, which was encouraging. There was evidence that action taken to reduce the supply of illicit substances was beginning to have an impact, but there had been little progress in addressing long-standing deficiencies in the care of prisoners at risk of self-harm or  suicide.

 Health care provision was reasonable and access to clinics was improving. There were good partnership arrangements which had helped address a recent outbreak of COVID-19. The response to the pandemic was undermined by weaknesses in the cohorting of new prisoners. We found prisoners who should have been kept separate from the main population socialising in other prisoners’ cells. Symptomatic prisoners were unable to leave their cell for any reason for a minimum of 10 days.

Time out of cell for most prisoners was limited to about 90 minutes on most days and less on Fridays and at weekends. Work opportunities had been confined to essential roles only and education was being delivered through work packs completed in cells. While some prisoners made good progress, others spoke of difficulties in getting access to teachers or to the resources needed to complete the work.

The offender management unit was well led and had a very small backlog of work. There was very little face-to-face contact with prisoners and prison offender managers relied on telephone calls and contact made through cell doors. Public protection arrangements were good. Prisoners valued the practical support offered immediately before their release.

Despite some progress since our last inspection and during the pandemic, outcomes for prisoners at Exeter still required improvement. All leaders and managers needed to commit fully to the governor’s vision for the establishment with the development of staff capability based on good quality relationships with prisoners remaining a priority.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
March 2021

Return to Exeter

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

  • HMP Exeter – report (PDF) (1 MB), Report on a scrutiny visit to HMP Exeter (9 and 16–17 March 2021)
  • HMP Exeter (2.43 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Exeter (14–24 May 2018)
  • HMP Exeter (1.54 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Exeter (15-26 August 2016)
  • HMP Exeter, Unannounced inspection of HMP Exeter (29 July – 9 August 2013)
  • HMP Exeter, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Exeter (5-7 July 2011)
  • HMP Exeter, Announced inspection of HMP Exeter (12-16 October 2009)
  • HMP Exeter, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Exeter (16-18 October 2007)