HMIP Inspections of Norwich Prison

The prison was given a full inspection in September 2106. The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

HMP/YOI Norwich is a local prison holding a complex mix of remanded and sentenced category B, C and D adult prisoners and remanded and sentenced young adults. The prison is unusual in that it is split across three separate sites, each with different functions. Most prisoners were held on the ‘reception’ site, which acted as a local prison for remanded, category B and C prisoners. The local discharge unit (LDU)  held category C prisoners and carried out some specialist functions. Britannia House was a resettlement unit for category D prisoners. These complexities added up to a significant management challenge. At our last inspection in August 2013, we considered that the prison had made good progress in addressing some serious concerns from our previous inspection the year before.

At this inspection this progress had been maintained and, in some important areas, built upon. While Norwich had experienced similar challenges to other local prisons in recent years, including lower staffing levels, increases in violence – particularly against staff – and the pervasive influence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) (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), it was notable that in our survey prisoners were more likely to say they felt safe at the prison than at comparators. Proactive action had been taken to understand the safety challenges and a range of interventions developed to offset the impact of some prisoners’ poor behaviour. While more needed to be done, we considered that this proactive approach had resulted in a safer and more stable prison.

There had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection. In some of them there had been a failure to pass on information about vulnerability during prisoners’ early days at Norwich. Arrangements for supporting newly arrived prisoners had improved and were now better than at our previous inspection. This was particularly the case for the many men who arrived with substance misuse issues. Nevertheless, we did observe a slightly chaotic reception process on one day during the inspection; this needed to be monitored to ensure arrangements on arrival were adequate. Support for those subject to assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) case management arrangements for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm was generally good, although we saw some weaknesses in the management of the process itself and adult safeguarding arrangements needed to be stronger.

The prison was overcrowded but still provided a basically respectful living environment, and staff-prisoner relationships were good. Staff across the prison promoted a positive culture emphasising mutual respect and decency. Ofsted rated learning and skills provision as ‘good’  overall, which equates to HMI Prisons’ assessment of ‘reasonably good’. Attention had been paid to enhancing the activities places available, and both the number and range of what was offered had improved. There were some good achievements in work, education and vocational training and the majority of prisoners had something worthwhile to do. Nevertheless, too many men were locked up during the working day.

Resettlement work remained reasonably good overall, although more needed to be done to ensure rehabilitation was at the centre of all that happened at the prison. The LDU provided men approaching release with some good opportunities, although we felt that with more attention the provision could have been enhanced. Offender management work was generally up to date but levels of contact between men and their offender supervisors were insufficient. Through-the-gate resettlement arrangements were adequate overall, but required more focus on supporting men from the two closed sites to gain employment on release, and shortage of social housing meant too many men were released without stable accommodation. Finally, work at Britannia House was notable, with several examples of good practice being evident. Use of release on temporary licence (ROTL) was excellent, and the vast majority of men had secured employment when they were discharged.

Overall, Norwich had continued the forward momentum we noted at our previous inspection; a significant factor was strong and stable leadership by the governor and his team. It might not have been coincidental that unlike many other prisons we  have visited in recent months, the senior team had been at the prison for some years. The leadership team had anticipated and managed many of the challenges, focused on the recommendations we made at our last inspection, and had ensured that staff were kept well informed about their priorities. We were told during the inspection that both the governor and his deputy were about to move on to new challenges. This would clearly be a significant change for Norwich, but we left optimistic about the many changes that were now well embedded and the number of plans in place or being developed which would ensure progress was maintained.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

December    2016                                                                          

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Norwich

To read the full reports either go to the Ministry of Justice web sites or follow the links below:

  • HMP/YOI Norwich (1.20 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP/YOI Norwich (12-23 September 2016)
  • HMP Norwich, Announced inspection of HMP Norwich (29 July–2 August, 19–23 August 2013)
  • HMP Norwich, Unannounced full follow-up inspection of HMP Norwich (11 – 20 January 2012)
  • HMP/YOI Norwich, Unannounced inspection of HMP/YOI Norwich (3-12 February 2010)