The prison inspectors have made a follow up IRP to Guys Marsh after their inspection in January 2019. In the press release announcing of their report they said:
HMP Guys Marsh, a men’s training prison in Dorset, was found to have become safer, through action to tackle violence and drugs, since its last inspection at the beginning of 2019. However, progress in other areas was disappointing.
In January 2019, inspectors described a prison that had started to make progress after successive poor inspections. Rehabilitation and release planning had improved substantially and most areas relating to respect had seen reasonable outcomes for prisoners. At that time, though, inspectors were concerned about insufficiently good provision of purposeful activity and high levels of violence, driven by drug use and debt. Use of force by staff was also high.
An independent review of progress (IRP) against key recommendations and themes from the full inspection took place in October 2019. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “Our findings were disappointing.” There had been sufficient progress against only four of the 13 recommendations and themes, and against a further two there had been no meaningful progress.
Mr Clarke commented: “Processes and procedures were often not robust enough to provide assurance that tangible progress could be expected or sustained. For example, while there had been a welcome reduction in use of force, governance remained inconsistent and it was not clear that lessons were being learned from quality assurance procedures. While some recommendations needed more resources to be achieved, others had not been achieved as a result of insufficient management focus.”
The positive findings of the IRP centred on safety, an area of prison life where outcomes had shown “impressive progress.” There had been a reduction of nearly 40% in violence.
The number of positive drug tests had also dropped markedly. The report noted “a good focus on educating prisoners on the dangers of using illicit drugs. This included the introduction of a six-week locally developed gym course (‘Tackling drugs through sport’), which focused on issues such as healthy lifestyles and the effects of drugs on the body, while providing all participants with a weekly health test. Several other useful initiatives had been developed […] such as overdose awareness events, drug forums and roadshows.” Another positive finding was that work to support family ties had also been strengthened.
Other areas were less positive. Weak management of applications remained a considerable source of frustration to prisoners. The management of equality had been largely neglected.
Similarly, Mr Clarke said, “the amount of time out of cell remained poor, with nearly a third of prisoners locked up during the working day and no evidence of realistic plans to improve the situation. Attendance at activities was poor and purposeful activity showed little perceptible improvement.” However, poor management of learning and skills evident since the inspection had recently been addressed.
Overall, Mr Clarke said,
“Notwithstanding the commendable progress in safety, managers had much work to do to ensure that the positive changes were sustained and that ongoing weaknesses in the areas of daily life, equality and diversity and purposeful activity were addressed. The recent concerning history of Guys Marsh demonstrates that Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service will also need to assure itself that any improvement that is made is sustainable and maintained.”
.To read the full report click below
HMP Guys Marsh (348.76 kB), Report on an independent review of progress at HMP Guys Marsh (14 – 16 October 2019)