HMIP Inspections of Haverigg

The prison was inspected in May 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:

Situated near Millom in Cumbria, and one of the more remote establishments in the English prison system, HMP Haverigg is a sprawling former RAF station that had been a category C training prison since 1967. A prison with a troubled history and one that has been the subject of much criticism from the Inspectorate in recent years, particularly in relation to safety and control, significant change was introduced in late 2019 when HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), greatly influenced by a respected former governor, re-designated Haverigg as an open prison. This, however, unfortunately coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prison’s response to the pandemic, while maintaining the momentum behind the transition, has therefore been the main strategic challenge for the establishment over the last 16 months. It is greatly to the credit of the acting governor, her management team and the staff and prisoners of Haverigg, that they have progressed so well.

Capable of holding about 480 prisoners, there were just 310 in residence during our inspection. Representing a reasonably mature age profile, most prisoners had been convicted of a sexual offence, and meeting the needs of this type of prisoner had been quickly established as the new purpose and specialism of the prison. Haverigg had made a very impressive start and at this inspection we found that outcomes for prisoners were at least reasonably good against all our tests of a healthy prison, and in safety we judged them to be ‘good’. Much of this success was predicated on good staff-prisoner relationships, a traditional strength at Haverigg, with prisoners in our survey being very positive about their experiences in the prison. Staff in turn seemed to us to be greatly relieved that the prison had gained for itself a new lease of life, one that they were embracing, although some expressed anxiety about the need to gain the new skills required for working with the particular type of prisoner now held at Haverigg.

Data and outcomes confirmed to us that the prison was very safe and we noted a general sense of well-being. We inspected as the prison was emerging from inevitable restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but found prisoners had very good access to the prison grounds and that nearly everyone was involved in some kind of purposeful work or education. We were similarly encouraged by the way the prison was sustaining its approach to sentence management, critical risk of harm reduction work and rehabilitative services. As the prison settles into its new role, these services will take on even greater significance.

Another striking observation of ours was the prison’s sense of confidence and self-reliance. Solutions were being sought to problems as they emerged, with this perhaps best exemplified by the way the prison, using prisoner labour, had organised the removal of the now superfluous security fencing, as well as other restrictions. This was not an insignificant task. A workshop had even been created to make use of the reclaimed steel. Similarly, the prison’s extensive grounds were being developed and opened for prisoner access rather than being cordoned off.

More, of course, remained to be done. Some governance arrangements needed to be tightened up and while prisoners mitigated the worst impact, many accommodation facilities required investment and renewal. The challenge of ensuring a safe but accessible offer of temporary release also needed to be met. These issues, which are supported by our recommendations, do not, however, detract from our encouraging findings. Haverigg is fast becoming a very capable establishment and is progressing to a point where it soon may well be one of the better open prisons in the estate.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
June 2021

Return to Haverigg

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

  • Inspection report (2 MB)Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Haverigg by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (17-28 May 2021)
  • HMP Haverigg (514.94 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Haverigg (27–28 March, 3–6 April 2017)
  • HMP Haverigg, Unannounced inspection of HMP Haverigg (6 – 17 January 2014)
  • HMP Haverigg, Unannounced full follow-up inspection of HMP Haverigg (16 – 25 March 2011)
  • HMP Haverigg, Announced inspection of HMP Haverigg (2-6 February 2009)

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