Inspections at HMP Humber

The newly merged prison was inspected during December 2017. In his report the inspector said:

“HMP Humber is a large category C training prison in East Yorkshire holding more than 1,000 adult male prisoners. An amalgamation of the old Everthorpe borstal and the formerly privately run, more  modern Wolds prison, Humber is a very large site comprising two distinct environments or, as they are termed, zones. The rural setting, extended perimeter and geographical extent of the prison presented real security vulnerabilities and supervisory challenges.

Added to this, there was evidence of significant need among the comparatively young population. Many prisoners were serving short sentences and nearly 60% had been at the prison for less than six months. There was no doubt that the prison was managing considerable risks. However, we were told repeatedly by managers, staff and, to an extent, prisoners that the prison had improved markedly over the last year. There was evidence to support this proposition, and while our healthy prison assessments had changed only marginally since our last inspection in 2015, we found a reasonably stable prison where there seemed to be a new-found and growing confidence about its future.

Despite this optimism, Humber was still not safe enough. New prisoners were received reasonably well but concerning data showed high levels of victimisation, intimidation and violence, some of it serious. The evidence suggested that much of the violence was underpinned by a pervasive drug culture. Nearly two-thirds of prisoners thought drugs were easy to obtain and 29% claimed to have acquired a drug problem while at the prison. Drug testing data suggested a positive rate – when psychoactive substances were included – of 38%, which made clear the extent of the problem. The prison had pursued several initiatives, some more advanced than others, to combat violence and confront drugs. It was too early to be sure this work was meaningfully improving outcomes. We identified the need for more joined-up thinking with respect to the ongoing battle against drugs and have made a main recommendation to that effect.

In keeping with the challenges still being faced, the use of formal disciplinary processes was significant, as was the use of force. We were concerned that the quality of oversight and supervision with respect to the use of force was insufficient to ensure proper accountability and, again, we have made a main recommendation seeking improvement. Overall, we assessed the application of security measures to be competent and generally proportionate. Similarly, the use of segregation was limited and those men for whom there was no alternative were generally well cared for.

The extent of vulnerability in the population was arguably reflected in the high levels of self-harm. Five prisoners had sadly taken their own lives since we last inspected, although all but one were before 2017. The prison’s response to the Prison and robation Ombudsman’s (PPO) investigations of these deaths had been positive and case management of those at risk was generally very good. Prisoners at risk we spoke to felt supported by the prison. Humber remained a reasonably respectful prison. Staff-prisoner relationships were good, the prison environment was generally decent and most cells were adequate, although too many were overcrowded. Food was adequate overall, and general complaints procedures were well managed and responsive. The promotion of equality was less effective and over-reliant on a limited number of individual staff. Systems to identify and support minority groups existed but they were usually partial or applied inconsistently. Most prisoners had a reasonable experience of health care but there were shortcomings in the provision of ongoing mental health interventions – a particular problem in a prison population presenting high levels of need . Support for prisoners with drug problems was commendable despite staffing shortages.

Prisoners were provided with a predictable daily routine, although a third of prisoners were locked up during the working day, which was very disappointing for a training prison. There was evidence that the quality of work, training and education was improving but there remained insufficient places for all, with at least 250 men recorded as unemployed. With the exception of maths and English, teaching was mostly good, but opportunities to accredit skills and learning acquired by men were too often missed.

Resettlement work was reasonable overall, and underpinned by a comprehensive policy. The prison was working hard to address a significant backlog of OASys (offender assessment system) assessments, with half of prisoners arriving at Humber without a completed or up-to-date OASys assessment. Most cases were well managed, although contact with supervisors was too limited. It was to the prison’s credit that despite this, 87% of prisoners knew of their custody targets. The highest-risk prisoners were being appropriately prioritised but public protection arrangements needed improvement. Support for those being released was generally good.

Humber was a prison with significant issues to address. That said, we were confident that the new governor and her team were aware of the gaps and had the capability and confidence to continue their programme of improvement. They needed to sustain the progress of the preceding year and build on what they had achieved. The prison was, in our view, well led and the staff group appeared to us to be committed. There was good reason to be optimistic about what could be achieved at Humber.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
January 2018
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Humber  

The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:

  • HMP Humber (1.65 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Humber (21 November, 4–8 December 2017)
  • HMP Humber (PDF, 808.76 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Humber (13 – 24 July 2015)
  •  HMP Everthorpe Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Everthorpe (19 – 21 March 2012)
  • HMP Everthorpe Full announced inspection of HMP Everthorpe (12-16 January 2009
  • HMP Wolds Announced full follow-up inspection of HMP Wolds (23 – 27 April 2012)
  • HMP Wolds Announced inspection of HMP Wolds (7-11 December 2009)
  • HMP Wolds Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Wolds (17-19 September 2007)