HMP Foston Hall, HMIP Inspections

 The prison was given an inspection in the summer of  2016, 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 Foston Hall is a women’s local resettlement prison situated near Uttoxeter serving courts in the Midlands and Mid-Wales. Like most other women’s local prisons, it continues to hold a complicated mix of women, from those recently remanded in custody to those with lengthy or indeterminate sentences. Levels of  need in the population were very high; nearly all the women arrived at the prison with problems of some sort. A significant number felt depressed or suicidal and nearly half reported having mental health problems. Many reported problems with drugs or alcohol. Over half the women had children under the age of 18 and for a similar number it was their first time in prison. At our last inspection in October 2014 we  assessed outcomes in three of our four healthy prison areas as reasonably good, but considered that purposeful activity provision was insufficiently good.

At this inspection we found a mixed picture in terms of outcomes for the women held; there were some obvious strengths but also a few areas of significant weakness in each  of our healthy prison areas. Some aspects of early days ’ support needed to be improved, particularly as this was when women were at their most vulnerable. The prison was basically safe but we were extremely concerned that there had been four self-inflicted deaths since our last inspection. We were confident that the prison had taken robust action to address most of the concerns resulting from these deaths, although some issues still needed to be resolved. We saw good care provided to the many women who were at risk of self-harming and a sensible  approach adopted to managing those with complex needs. Relationships between women and staff were strong and founded on mutual respect, which supported the safety of the institution, and a respectful approach was adopted in most areas. The living accommodation was mixed but clean and decent, although we were concerned that it was increasingly crowded, putting an additional strain on  some services and staff’s ability to interact with the women proactively. The outside environment of  the prison was excellent. There was some good work to support higher risk women through the release process, although we were surprised that unlike other similar prisons, release on temporary licence was not used to support this work. The community rehabilitation company was delivering pockets of good work, but was not yet fully integrated into the prison or delivering consistently good outcomes. The visits provision remained limited but the family engagement worker was now delivering an excellent range of bespoke support.

Health care provision was in a period of transition and in some areas had started to deliver reasonably good support. However, several aspect s of medicines management were deficient; there were delays in prescribed medications and limited  administration slots at weekends and on bank holidays, which meant that some medicines were not being given to women at the right time. This was exacerbated by less than a quarter of women getting their medications in possession, a very low number. No pain relief was available out of hours, which was a worrying oversight, and it is pleasing to note that this was rectified immediately following this inspection. Confidentiality at medication hatches was poor, as was staff supervision, which was a concern given the challenges faced with the diversion of medicines. These issues were escalated by prison managers to the NHS commissioner during the inspection and needed to be addressed as a priority.

While some aspects of purposeful activity had improved since the last inspection, particularly the range, quality and outcomes achieved, the overall picture was disappointing. We found around a third of women locked up during the day, which was worse than at the last inspection and far too high. It was particularly concerning that the prison management did not seem to be aware of this. There were still insufficient activity places for all the women to be purposefully occupied, and again similar to the last inspection, not all the places available were used. The range for those staying at the prison for short periods was too restricted.

Overall, Foston Hall remained a reasonably safe and respectful prison, and we found some excellent work being done to manage and support progression for the highly complex mix of women. Managers and staff were focused on improving the weaker aspects of the prison’s work, and we asked them to focus particularly on early days’ support, the management of medicines and developing the purposefulness of the regime. The prison’s senior team was going through a period of instability but we hoped this would be resolved speedily to ensure continuity in building on the obvious strengths of the institution, and addressing some of the significant challenges ahead.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

                                                                                                                    August 2016

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: