The prison was given an inspection in summer 2013, 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:
“Located near Liverpool, Kennet is a training prison for up to 342 adult male prisoners. Situated next to Ashworth high security hospital, in converted former hospital premises, it opened in late 2007 as a category C establishment but has recently changed function to become a resettlement prison. It is now semi-open with a majority of category D prisoners and with many relatively new to the establishment. Arrangements to achieve this transition had worked well and our observations suggested to us that the prison was achieving reasonably good or better outcomes for prisoners across all our tests of a healthy prison.
Kennet was a remarkably safe prison. Reception and induction arrangements were slow and fragmented but nearly all other safety indicators, such as levels of violence, self harm and use of force, were low. In our survey most prisoners said that they felt safe. Arrangements to address substance misuse were satisfactory and use of segregation was low, to the extent that we questioned the need for such a facility at Kennet. Security arrangements were broadly proportionate although some did not reflect the prison’s changed circumstances and reducing risks, and were needlessly restrictive.
Staff-prisoner relationships were usually good and most prisoners felt respected, but the prison’s new function meant significant staff reductions and a requirement for staff to work differently. Some staff we observed were dismissive of prisoners, which suggested that a few had yet to come to terms with the challenges of the prison’s new direction. Prisoner consultation could also have been more embedded. Many aspects of the environment, and in particular the prisoners’ accommodation, was, although clean, in a poor condition and required refurbishment. Similarly the prison’s work to promote equality needed to improve. Structures to support minorities were not strong and consultation was limited. Faith provision was impressive and health care was generally good, although prisoners expressed some negative perceptions about the service.
Kennet was a purposeful establishment. The semi-open regime meant that hardly anyone was locked up, and prisoners had good access to amenities and services. Learning and skills provision was well managed with sufficient activity for all. The quality of teaching, learning and assessment were all judged to be good and vocational training facilities and learning were impressive. Work was carried out to commercial standards and there was a meaningful focus on preparation for work and employability. The achievement of qualifications generally, was high. In the relatively short time that Kennet had been a resettlement prison, good links had been developed that were allowing significant numbers of prisoners to use their skills in voluntary work experience on temporary release. There was more to do to provide paid work placements in line with this strategy.
More work was also required to ensure the prison had a fully integrated resettlement strategy which was consistent with its new role. The transition to resettlement status had been managed reasonably well but a new and relevant needs analysis was required and there were real gaps in the quality of offender management. There were evident delays and backlogs in various assessments; the quality of offender supervision was often weak, compounded by limited professional supervision, and the function and role of offender management, central to addressing risk and driving the sentence, needed clearer definition. Work to support the various resettlement pathways was very good with much of it coordinated through structures to facilitate a prisoner’s temporary release, which again supported their eventual resettlement. It was telling, however, that despite much good resettlement work, too many prisoners expressed frustration about a lack of communication and their own lack of understanding about what was happening to them.
Kennet was settling well into its new role. Initiatives like the use of temporary release had been embraced with confidence and care, and there was a sense that the prison had a plan for developing this role further. Prisoners were given clear opportunities to use their time purposefully and acquire skills, and to prepare for release. Key priorities should now include further improving the quality of staff-prisoner relationships and developing a culture of consultation and communication with prisoners; improving environmental standards; including more proportionate physical security; and ensuring meaningful offender management is at the heart of the prisoners experience. Overall, however, the Governor and staff should be commended for running a prison that delivers good outcomes.
Nick Hardwick November 2013
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”
To read the full reports, go to the Ministry of Justice site or follow the links below: