HMIP Inspection of Manchester

The prison was given an inspection in September 2021, 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: 

In 2020, HMP Manchester made the transition from a local to a category B training prison, retaining a small category A function and separate close supervision centre. At the time of our visit it held 624 men, of whom a third were serving indeterminate sentences.

The governor had taken on the challenge of transforming the culture of the prison and the mindset of the staff to focus on the rehabilitation of long[1]sentenced prisoners rather than the needs of a transient local prison population, but much of this work had been delayed or derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some material changes had certainly supported this process – all but a few prisoners were held in single cells, showers had been improved and new kitchens on wings would soon mean prisoners could cook their own food.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, many prisoners were still spending too long in their cells with few jobs available, very limited offending behaviour programmes and face-to-face education practically non-existent. Staff shortages restricted the number of prisoners who could get to the library, gym or workshops.

One of the themes of this inspection was the lack of trust that prisoners had in prison staff. For example, they did not believe that complaints would be dealt with robustly, they could not get hold of their stored property, the booking line for visits rang unanswered, there was often no response to applications and the vulnerable prisoners on K wing reported high levels of victimisation from staff.

The governor had taken some active steps to address this issue, moving his office and those of senior managers onto the wings to increase their visibility to prisoners and staff. He had put in a new system for managing complaints, brought in new quality assurance to respond to allegations of discrimination and he chaired the black prisoner consultation forum. He had also held a drug summit in which staff and prisoners were consulted on how to reduce the supply of drugs, from which leaders had developed a series of actions. At the last inspection we were very critical of the segregation unit and we were pleased to see improvements not only in the physical environment, but in the way men with often very complex needs were helped back into the main prison, with some impressive input from the psychology service in formulating support plans.

The governor had also prioritised improving the staff culture in the prison and the often good and caring interactions we saw with prisoners were evidence that progress was being made. Inspectors who had also been on the previous inspection noticed an improvement in the atmosphere. The prison had recently adopted a new incentive scheme that aimed to improve prisoners’ behaviour, though it was too early to see the effects. Leaders had introduced targeted performance management for custodial managers to improve their confidence and competence in leading their teams; this was crucial to transforming the prison culture.

 There was, however, much to be done – in some wings, inspectors were struck by the lack of engagement and poor attitudes of some officers. This along with a reluctance to turn on body-worn cameras, the unnecessary use of an aggressive, barking dog to accompany prisoners who were being relocated to the segregation unit, the unwillingness of some staff to challenge disruptive behaviour, the extraordinary strip-searching of prisoners who were being released and the often poor treatment of those at risk of suicide or self-harm, pointed to the scale of the challenge.

The board in the administrative block lists the 10 governors who have led the prison since the turn of the century, a turnover rate that explains why so many deep-set problems remain. If HMP Manchester is to make the transformation from a security-focused local prison to a category B training prison that rehabilitates the often challenging and complex men in its care, the prison service will need to make sure that this strong and effective governor has the time and money to complete the job.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
October 2021

Return to Manchester

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

  • Inspection report (748 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Manchester by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (6-7 and 13-17 September 2021)
  • HMP Manchester (658.29 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Manchester (27, 28 June, 9–12 July 2018)
  • HMP Manchester, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Manchester (27 October – 7 November 2014)
  • HMP Manchester, Unannounced full follow-up inspection of HMP Manchester (1 – 9 September 2011)
  • HMP Manchester, Announced inspection of HMP Manchester (27-31 July 2009)

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