The prison was last inspected in spring 2018. In their report the inspectors said:
“ HMP Hull is a local prison serving the East Yorkshire area. With a history that dates back to the late Victorian era, it is in many ways a typical inner-city local, holding over 1,000 men in a mixture of old and new accommodation and facing a range of social and operational challenges. At the time of our inspection, about two-thirds of the population had been convicted and sentenced, with the remainder on remand, awaiting sentence or subject to recall. A fairly even age profile was represented, including a relatively small number of younger prisoners under the age of 21. The offence profile of those held was similarly broad, although 43% of those held had been convicted of sex offences.
We last inspected in 2014 when we found mixed outcomes reflecting the challenges faced by similar prisons, but Hull was working well in comparison to most other local prisons. At this inspection we found a not too dissimilar picture, with outcomes that we judged to be reasonably good against all four of our tests of a healthy prison. In the context of the challenges faced by the prison system in recent years, this was not an insignificant achievement.
HMP Hull is a front-line prison receiving new prisoners from court on a daily basis. Reception procedures properly assessed presenting risk and induction arrangements were adequate. First night cells, however, needed to be cleaner and better prepared. Most prisoners told us they felt safe and although there had been an increase in violence since our last inspection, the data suggested much of it was relatively minor. Arrangements and strategies to reduce violence were comprehensive and robust, and included the pilot of new challenge and support interventions aimed at perpetrators and victims of violent incidents. Like violence, use of force had increased, but the evidence provided assurance concerning the legitimacy of its use and management oversight was good. Segregation, in contrast, was used less frequently. Those who were segregated were generally treated well and for the most part successfully reintegrated back into the main prison.
Most security procedures were proportionate and underpinned by good relationships, good supervision, a good flow of intelligence and a comprehensive drug supply reduction strategy. Drugs remained a challenge, with drug testing data suggesting a positive rate of 24%, but this was very nearly half the rate of 12 months ago and there was other evidence to suggest that the prison’s work to combat drugs was beginning to be more effective.
Tragically, since we last inspected, five prisoners had taken their own lives and levels of self-harm had increased drastically. It was evident that work had been done to implement Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) recommendations following their investigations, but the quality of case work concerning those in crisis was still not good enough. Work to improve the situation had begun, but the need to gain a clearer understanding of why self-harm had increased, as well as the need for further improvement in the support offered to those vulnerable, is the subject of one of our mainrecommendations.
The prison had many experienced staff but also a significant tranche of newer staff, all of whom received good mentoring and support. We felt this made a significant contribution overall to what we found to be an authoritative and confident yet relaxed staff group. Most prisoners felt respected, or knew of someone they could turn to for help, and 87% said they had a personal officer. There was some useful work being done to promote the use of peer support and consultation arrangements were developing, but they needed to be better promoted. Application and complaints procedures had improved. Living conditions were less good. There was much overcrowding with two-thirds of prisoners sharing cramped cells. There was a backlog of much-needed repairs and many facilities were in poor condition. The older accommodation required investment, but despite this most prisoners kept their own cells clean and communal and external grounds were well maintained.
Another priority for the prison was the promotion of equality and diversity. Progress was being made, not least through the appointment of a full-time equality manager, but there was still no policy or equalities strategy specific to the prison and consultation with minority groups was limited. The evidence indicated more negative perceptions among some minority groups and some feelings of marginalisation, although investigations when complaints were made were fair and thorough.
At the time of our inspection the prison’s daily routine was subject to change and review. A fully employed prisoner could get nine hours out of cell, although we found 23% of prisoners locked up during the working day and one in ten prisoners were unemployed despite there being sufficient activity places for almost all. The quality of education and vocational training was good with success rates in English and maths being driven up and links with employers developing. Our colleagues in Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of learning and skills and work at Hull to be ‘good’.
Outcomes in the area of rehabilitation and release planning were similarly reasonably good. Family ties were promoted reasonably well and a developing resettlement strategy was in place, although it was undermined by a lack of comprehensive analysis of need. Communication and coordination of offender management and the community rehabilitation company (CRC) also needed to be better.
The prison’s many sex offenders mostly received very good offender management but for almost all other high risk of harm cases we reviewed, offender supervision was weak. Public protection arrangements also needed to be much better and improvement needed to be prioritised. The range of accredited offending behaviour programmes for sex offenders was excellent and some very interesting developmental work was happening to support those with a personality disorder or needing the structure of a psychologically informed planned environment (PIPE). Release planning was adequate.
To conclude, HMP Hull is a prison doing its best and this is an encouraging report. Strong leadership and a positive staff culture underpinned, in our view, the maintenance of reasonably good outcomes during challenging times. There seemed to us to be a strong sense of community at the prison that combined the positive characteristics of a prison proud of its traditions, a culture of competence and an openness to new ideas and creativity. We saw plenty of evidence of managers and staff being keen to embrace new work. There is, as ever, more to do, but the governor and his staff should be commended for their hard work and achievements.
Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:
- HMP Hull, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Hull (26 March–12 April 2018)
- HMP Hull, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Hull (6–17 October 2014)
- HMP Hull, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Hull (14 – 17 February 2012)
- HMP Hull, Announced inspection on HMP Hull (10 – 14 November 2008)