HMIP Report, Leyhill

The prison was given an inspection in late summer 2016, 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:

 “HMP Leyhill is a long-established open prison in Gloucestershire that currently holds some 500 men. A major element of the prison’s role is of  course the preparation of many of the men being held there for release back into the community. Given the serious nature of the offences committed by some of the men, the long sentences they have served and the changing nature of the prison population, this is a complex and challenging task.

Since the last inspection in 2012, the population of  the prison had changed dramatically. In 2012, sex offenders accounted for about 20% of the prisoners at Leyhill. The figure was now around 60%. This could have led to many kinds of negative outcomes for prisoners but, to the credit of the prison, it had not. While some sex offenders complained of being bullied and victimised by other prisoners, the prison had a clear zero-tolerance attitude towards this kind of behaviour and this, of course, was exactly as it should be. This had undoubtedly contributed to Leyhill being the safe and decent establishment that we found it to be.

During the inspection I was invited by the senior management of the prison to look on Leyhill as a community where the management, staff and prisoners work together to ‘make it work’ and wherever possible to provide bespoke support for the men. The inspection found plenty of evidence to confirm that this was indeed the case, and the details of this can be found within the body of this report.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive findings of this  inspection, there were some areas of concern.  We commended the extensive use of  prisoners as orderlies, mentors and advice workers, but care needed to be taken that they were properly trained and supervised. We were also concerned that, for an open prison, access to release on temporary licence (ROTL) was problematic, with too few placements available and delays in processing requests. These issues needed to be addressed, as did the barriers – such as the lack of approved premises – that delayed the release of some men who had been deemed ready for release by the Parole Board. This was clearly unacceptable.

Our confidence that these matters will be addressed was helped by the positive response to the recommendations made following our last inspection. On that occasion we made 47 recommendations, of which we found that 30 had been  fully or partly achieved. This was higher than we have unfortunately become accustomed to seeing  elsewhere, and no doubt accounted for the fact that the high standards seen in 2012 had not only  been maintained, but improved upon. But for the concerns highlighted above, it is entirely possible that HMP Leyhill would have been awarded the highest possible judgements in all areas.

The outcome of this inspection is a credit to all of the staff at Leyhill and the way they have responded to the energetic and committed leadership given by the senior management of the prison.


Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM            November     2016                                                                          

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Leyhill

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

  • HMP Leyhill (860.97 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Leyhill (5-16 September 2016)
  • HMP Leyhill,  Announced inspection of HMP Leyhill (16-20 April 2012)
  • HMP Leyhill, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Leyhill (24 – 26 May 2010)