HMP Lincoln, HMIP inspections

The prison was inspected fully by HMIP in January 2017.  In their report they said:

HMP Lincoln is a Victorian prison holding over 600 remand and sentenced adult and young adult men. It remains overcrowded, which, along with the age of the prison, means there are significant challenges in keeping conditions decent for those held. At recent previous inspections, we have identified a number of concerns about treatment and conditions, although by the time of our last inspection in November 2013, we saw encouraging improvements across a range of outcomes. At this inspection we found that while some progress had been maintained, deterioration was also evident.

Like other local prisons, Lincoln faced increased levels of violence, often related to the prevalence of drugs and the difficulty of managing the problem with reduced staff numbers. In recent months it had received men from other prisons across the country following concerted disorder at those establishments, adding to the already considerable number already held there from outside the Lincolnshire area. The population was now more complex and many more men disclosed vulnerabilities in our survey, including a significant number stating they had mental health problems.

Those men arriving from other prisons following disturbances had been sensibly managed and violence reduction work, while rudimentary, was appropriate and developing. The way the prison tackled new psychoactive substances (new drugs that are developed or chosen to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin or amphetamines and may have unpredictable and life threatening effects) was effective, and other prisons could learn from its approach, particularly the good partnership working with local police.

Good care was provided for the most vulnerable men in the population, but in some cases, the prison’s response to death in custody investigations, as well as its application of the assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) case management processes for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm, was disappointing. Support for newly arrived prisoners had improved overall, but there remained significant delays in reception; this potentially created risks for prisoners on their first night, an area of concern identified in death in custody reports. Work with segregated prisoners had improved, but the oversight and management of the use of force was seriously deficient and something we have addressed in one of our main recommendations.

The quality of relationships between prisoners and staff was a real strength, and underpinned much that was good at the prison. The new governor had instituted a ‘back to basics’ approach, which aimed to ensure the prison was cleaner and more decent. We found some good progress as a consequence, although more needed to be done. Faith provision was very good and we considered some aspects of complaints management to be good practice. Health care provision had suffered from severe staffing shortfalls, but was maintaining some reasonable outcomes. Equalities work however, had been neglected and was weak. We have addressed this failing in our main recommendations.

Outcomes in purposeful activity and resettlement had deteriorated since the last inspection. Positive steps had been taken to stabilise and regularise the regime, but time out of cell was not sufficient. The lack of a senior learning and skills manager for several months had led to the prison losing focus, and while the issue was beginning to be addressed, the provision had regressed and now needed significant attention to ensure activities supported prisoners’ rehabilitation. Resourcing to improve the considerable basic skills needs was insufficient. Some innovative work to manage men through their sentences and prepare them for release was evident but it was poorly coordinated and not generally driven by custody plans or relevant risk factors. This undermined its effectiveness.

Lincoln demonstrated many of the problems associated with old and overcrowded Victorian prisons, struggling to cope with keeping people in a safe and decent environment, while delivering a regime and interventions that support their rehabilitation. It had, however, achieved some success in addressing these challenges, and the new governor and his management team had redoubled efforts to build on the institution’s strengths. The priority it was giving to trying to get the basics right while treating prisoners as individuals was to be commended.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

March 2017

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Lincoln

To read the full report go to the Ministry of Justice web site.  These sections contain the reports for Lincoln from 2001 until present