HMP Foston Hall, HMIP Inspections

  The prison was given an inspection in February 2019, 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:

“Foston Hall, near Uttoxeter, has been a women’s prison since 1997. Set in the grounds of an old country house, the prison comprises a mix of accommodation, including some more modern purpose-built facilities. The prison has several functions, with the prisoners held ranging from those on remand in the Midlands, up to and including 52 serving indeterminate sentences. With a capacity of 286, the prison was holding 263 prisoners at the time of our inspection.

We last inspected Foston Hall in 2016 when we found outcomes for prisoners to be reasonably good against most of our healthy prison tests, although improvement was needed in the provision of purposeful activity. At this inspection we found a very positive institution where outcomes were now reasonably good against all of our tests.

Most prisoners at Foston Hall felt safe. Violence was rare and incidents minor. Work to investigate incidents when they did occur and the support offered to victims and perpetrators did, however, need to be better. The incentives scheme was not very effective and adjudications and use of force were both higher than we expected, although incidents when force was used were not normally very serious. Use of segregation was much reduced but conditions in the facility had yet to improve.

A dedicated social worker led work to support adult safeguarding effectively, but needed better support from other staff. Support for those with needs was not sufficiently proactive or always in line with prisoner care plans. The case management of those at risk of self-harm was variable, as was the care individuals in crisis felt they received. Self-harm incidents were very high and despite two self-inflicted deaths since we last inspected not all the recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, who investigated these incidents, had been implemented.

The general environment at the prison was excellent and most accommodation was good. Access to showers and most basic amenities had improved, although processes for dealing with simple applications was poor. This was mitigated slightly by the valued support of peer information workers. Supervision of the wings required improvement but most prisoners were positive about their relationships with staff. New work to promote equality and diversity had begun and was encouraging, with new arrangements for consultation now in place. Health care had improved considerably.

Most prisoners experienced very good time out of cell and some good joint working between education providers and the prison had seen improvements to the curriculum on offer. Quality assurance arrangements were in place and sufficient activity was available to meet the needs of all. The quality of teaching and learning and achievements by students were good, and our colleagues in Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of learning, skills and work to be ‘good’. A weakness in provision was low attendance and the disruption of classes as prisoners were often called to attend medical or other interventions during sessions.

The management of resettlement was improving but would have benefited further by a better analysis of the distinct needs of women in the prison. Work to support offender management was good but more could have been done for the many prisoners serving indeterminate sentences. Public protection work was robust and support for resettlement reasonably effective. There were some impressive initiatives such as the Family Bonding Unit to encourage stronger family ties.

Overall this is a good report about a good prison. Foston Hall is well led, with energy and creativity evident among the senior team. Themes that emerged from our inspection were the need to refine strategies so that initiatives were better coordinated and delivered more effectively, and to ensure that the staff group was more proactive in focusing on the needs of prisoners and their well-being. We were, however, confident that managers could use the platform they had created for further improvement and we leave the prison with several recommendations which we hope will assist this process.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                         April 2019

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Foston Hall

To read the full reports for the inspectors, follow the links below to the Ministy of Justice web site: