HMP Long Lartin, Inspections

The prison was inspected in January 2018 and the full report can be read by following the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

“Located near Evesham in Worcestershire, HMP Long Lartin is one of five high security dispersal prisons in the country. With 510 prisoners in total, it holds some of the country’s most dangerous and serious offenders. Just over 75% of the population are serving life sentences with almost all others serving more than 10 years. At the time of our inspection a quarter of those held were category A, the highest security classification, providing the clearest of evidence as to the operational and security risks the prison manages.

It was the case that several extremely serious incidents had occurred at the prison since we last inspected in 2014. At the time of this inspection, however, we found a well-controlled environment where most prisoners reported to us that they felt safe. Overall levels of violence had not risen, with assaults on prisoners actually falling since we last inspected. In contrast, assaults against staff had risen, which was a concern. Strategies and initiatives to combat violence were, in our view, comprehensive and robust.

Use of force had risen since we last inspected, but we found it was used proportionately and was well supervised; this was less evident in the use of special accommodation. The large segregation unit was holding about 24 men with many presenting very challenging behaviours. The case management of those segregated was satisfactory, although the daily routine was limited. Relationships with staff on the unit were good.

The management of security was the prison’s main priority, with robust procedures in place to address a range of challenges. Stringent perimeter security undoubtedly contributed to a less significant problem with illicit drugs than we usually see at other prisons. The prison also provided  evidence of work they were engaged in to tackle the risk of extremism among prisoners. Since 2014 at least three prisoners had, sadly, taken their own lives. Following investigations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), good progress against recommendations had been made. The prison’s support of those at risk of self-harm was generally good. Good case management was evident and very effective strategies were in place to try to create a safer environment.

Investigations into near misses were good and there was evidence that lessons were being learned. Relationships between staff and prisoners were confident and respectful, supported by developing prisoner consultation arrangements. The general environment was reasonably clean, although the quality of accommodation varied greatly. About half the population was held in ageing house blocks that used the night sanitation system, an arrangement that allowed prisoners access to toilet facilities by the remote electronic unlocking of cells. Our report details the indignities imposed on prisoners by this arrangement, a system we have criticised repeatedly in the past and an issue about which we make one of our main recommendations.

The promotion of equality and diversity had deteriorated of late, although investigations into reported acts of discrimination were adequate. Health care was stable and well led, providing a range of clinics and treatments. Work to support those with mental health needs was responsive and effective, although the in-patient facility remained insufficiently therapeutic. Time out of cell was reasonable for those who worked, but during spot checks we found about a third of prisoners locked up during the working day. The prison had sufficient activity places for the population but staff shortages had led to frequent closures. Our colleagues in Ofsted, however, reported positively on many aspects of learning and skills provision. Opportunities had increased, teaching and learning were good, and outcomes and achievements had significantly improved. The frequency of closures, however, undermined much good work, leading to Ofsted’s assessment that learning, skills and work ‘required improvement’. Our overall assessment was that the provision of activity was not sufficient.

Work to support offender management had evolved, largely through local custom and practice. Weakness were evidenced, not least a significant backlog of offender assessment system (OASys) assessments. Prisoners were, however, able to progress, public protection work was good and some meaningful work was being done through the provision of programmes to address offending behaviour. Resettlement arrangements for the tiny number of individuals who were released were bespoke and effective.

HMP Long Lartin, despite the challenges, remains a fundamentally capable prison. Its response to some of the very serious operational challenges it has had to deal with has been robust and measured and, in that sense, the establishment had not been knocked off course. The key challenges it had still to deal with concerned the legacy of some very poor accommodation and the need to routinely provide sufficient supervisory staff to sustain the daily routine. Key strengths remained a good staff culture which supported respectful engagement with prisoners and a competent management team who had a good grip on the issues.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
March 2018
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons


Return to Long Lartin

To read the full inspectors reports follow the links below: